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Who is right, the idealists or the materialists? The question, once stated in this way, hesitation becomes impossible. Undoubtedly the idealists are wrong and the materialists right. Yes, facts are before ideas; yes, the ideal, as Proudhon said, is but a flower, whose root lies in the material conditions of existence. Yes, the whole history of humanity, intellectual and moral, political and social, is but a reflection of its economic history.
All branches of modem science, of true and disinterested science, concur in proclaiming this grand truth, fundamental and decisive: The social world, properly speaking, the human world - in short, humanity - is nothing other than the last and supreme development - at least on our planet and as far as we know - the highest manifestation of animality. But as every development necessarily implies a negation, that of its base or point of departure, humanity is at the same time and essentially the deliberate and gradual negation of the animal element in man; and it is precisely this negation, as rational as it is natural, and rational only because natural - at once historical and logical, as inevitable as the development and realization of all the natural laws in the world - that constitutes and creates the ideal, the world of intellectual and moral convictions, ideas.
Yes, our first ancestors, our Adams and our Eves, were, if not gorillas, very near relatives of gorillas, omnivorous, intelligent and ferocious beasts, endowed in a higher degree than the animals of another species with two precious faculties - the power to think and the desire to rebel.
These faculties, combining their progressive action in history, represent the essential factor, the negative power in the positive development of human animality, and create consequently all that constitutes humanity in man.
The Bible, which is a very interesting and here and there very profound book when considered as one of the oldest surviving manifestations of human wisdom and fancy, expresses this truth very naively in its myth of original sin. Jehovah, who of all the good gods adored by men was certainly the most jealous, the most vain, the most ferocious, the most unjust, the most bloodthirsty, the most despotic, and the most hostile to human dignity and liberty - Jehovah had just created Adam and Eve, to satisfy we know not what fancy; no doubt to while away his time, which must weigh heavy on his hands in his eternal egoistic solitude, or that he might have some new slaves. He generously placed at their disposal the whole earth, with all its fruits and animals, and set but a single limit to this complete enjoyment. He expressly forbade them from touching the fruit of the tree of knowledge. He wished, therefore, that man, destitute of all understanding of himself, should remain
an eternal beast, ever on all-fours before the eternal God, his creator and his master. But here steps in Satan, the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds. He makes man ashamed of his bestial ignorance and obedience; he emancipates him, stamps upon his brow the seal of liberty and humanity, in urging him to disobey and eat of the fruit of knowledge.
We know what followed. The good God, whose foresight, which is one of the divine faculties, should have warned him of what would happen, flew into a terrible and ridiculous rage; he cursed Satan, man, and the world created by himself, striking himself so to speak in his own creation, as children do when they get angry; and, not content with smiting our ancestors themselves, he cursed them in all the generations to come, innocent of the crime committed by their forefathers. Our Catholic and Protestant theologians look upon that as very profound and very just, precisely because it is monstrously iniquitous and absurd. Then, remembering that he was not only a God of vengeance and wrath, but also a God of love, after having tormented the existence of a few milliards of poor human beings and condemned them to an eternal hell, he took pity on the rest, and, to save them and reconcile his eternal and divine love with his eternal and divine anger, always greedy for victims and blood, he sent into the world, as an expiatory victim, his only son, that he might be killed by men. That is called the mystery of the Redemption, the basis of all the Christian religions. Still, if the divine Savior had saved the human world! But no; in the paradise promised by Christ, as we know, such being the formal
announcement, the elect will number very few. The rest, the immense majority of the generations present and to come, will burn eternally in hell. In the meantime, to console us, God, ever just, ever good, hands over the earth to the government of the Napoleon Thirds, of the William Firsts, of the Ferdinands of Austria, and of the Alexanders of all the Russias.
Such are the absurd tales that are told and the monstrous doctrines that are taught, in the full light of the nineteenth century, in all the public schools of Europe, at the express command of the government. They call this civilizing the people! Is it not plain that all these governments are systematic poisoners, interested stupefies of the masses?
I have wandered from my subject, because anger gets hold of me whenever I think of the base and criminal means which they employ to keep the nations in perpetual slavery, undoubtedly that they may be the better able to fleece them. Of what consequence are the crimes of all the Tropmanns in the world compared with this crime of treason against humanity committed daily, in broad day, over the whole surface of the civilized world, by those who dare to call themselves the guardians and the fathers of the people? I return to the myth of original sin.
God admitted that Satan was right; he recognized that the devil did not deceive Adam and Eve in promising them knowledge and liberty as a reward for the act
of disobedience which he bad induced them to commit; for, immediately they had eaten of the forbidden fruit, God himself said (see Bible): "Behold, man is become as of the Gods, knowing both good and evil; prevent him, therefore, from eating of the fruit of eternal life, lest he become immortal like Ourselves.
Let us disregard now the fabulous portion of this myth and consider its true meaning, which is very clear. Man has emancipated himself; he has separated himself from animality and constituted himself a man; he has begun his distinctively human history and development by an act of disobedience and science - that is, by rebellion and by thought.
Three elements or, if you like, three fundamental principles constitute the essential conditions of all human development, collective or individual, in history:
(1) human animality;;
(2) thought; and
To the first properly corresponds social and private economy; to the second, science; to the third, liberty.
metaphysicians, politicians and moralists, religionists, philosophers, or poets, not forgetting the liberal economists - unbounded worshippers of the ideal, as we know - are much offended when told that man, with his magnificent intelligence, his sublime ideas, and his boundless aspirations, is, like all else existing in the world, nothing but matter, only a product of vile matter.
We may answer that the matter of which materialists speak, matter spontaneously and eternally mobile, active, productive, matter chemically or organically determined and manifested by the properties or forces, mechanical, physical, animal, and intelligent, which necessarily belong to it - that this matter has nothing in common with the vile matter of the idealists. The latter, a product of their false abstraction, is indeed a stupid, inanimate, immobile thing, incapable of giving birth to the smallest product, a caput mortuum, an ugly fancy in contrast to the beautiful fancy which they call God; as the opposite of this supreme being, matter, their matter, stripped by that constitutes its real nature, necessarily represents supreme nothingness. They have taken away intelligence, life, all its determining qualities, active relations or forces, motion itself, without which matter would not even have weight, leaving it nothing but impenetrability and absolute immobility in space; they have attributed all these natural forces, properties, and manifestations to the imaginary being created by their abstract fancy; then, interchanging rÙles, they
not even of setting itself in motion. from the inferior to the superior. 7 . or let him be an idea.have called this product of their imagination. the world. is perfectly conceivable. is nothing. have declared that the real being. which being formed and developed only by the aid of these same experiences. and consequently must have been created by their God. always present and active in the world. a kind of divine soul spread over the whole universe and constituting thus its eternal principle. infinite and divine. as well as of organic animal life and of the historically progressive intelligence of man. The gradual development of the material world. so to speak. let him be considered as a personal being. It is a wholly natural movement from the simple to the complex. cerebral reproduction or reflected summary thereof. or even as impersonal. as a necessary consequence. from the lower to the higher. individually or socially. matter. with the distinctive laws of our mind. this phantom. the creator and organizer of worlds. and consequently in conformity also with our natural logic. At the end of this book I exposed the fallacies and truly revolting absurdities to which one is inevitably led by this imagination of a God. but the mental. Here I shall deal with one point only. and always manifested by the totality of material and definite beings. "supreme Being" and. this God who is nothing. is. a movement in conformity with all our daily experiences. After which they gravely tell us that this matter is incapable of producing anything.
admitting. nothing that has not stood the severest tests of experience or observation of things and facts . and pushed on by the divine phantom which they have inherited from theology. It is the reversal of all human experiences and of that universal and common good sense which is the essential condition of all human understanding. and the first step that they take is a terrible fall from the sublime heights of the eternal ideal into the mire of the material world. and from the relatively simple to the more complex. from the inferior to the superior. from absolute perfection into absolute imperfection. Very far from pursuing the natural order from the lower to the higher. blinded. from supreme being to nothing. from the superior to the inferior. in rising from the simple and unanimously recognized truth that twice two are four to the sublimest and most complex scientific considerations .The system of the idealists is quite the contrary of this. and from living being to thinking being . take precisely the opposite course. vegetables. either as a person or as divine substance or idea. They go from the higher to the lower. instead of wisely and rationally accompanying the progressive and real movement from the world called inorganic to the world organic.from chemical matter or chemical being to living matter or living being. infinite. from thought to being.the idealists. They begin with God. or rather. When. 8 . eternal. how. and which. and why the divine being. animal. and then distinctively human .becomes the only serious basis of human knowledge. moreover. obsessed. from the complex to the simple.
have searched it for life. probably weary of himself. past and present. as unfathomable as before. because they could not explain it. prophets. have written heaps of volumes and built systems as ingenious as sublime. the principal object of their transcendental investigations. Is it to be hoped that it will be unveiled to us by the routine speculations of some pedantic disciple of an artificially warmed-over metaphysics at a time when all living and serious spirits have abandoned that ambiguous science born of a compromise . The gigantic efforts of the most Wonderful geniuses that the world has known. Schelling. for at least thirty centuries.absolutely perfect. no metaphysician. and who. and found only torment and death. Fichte. Like the ancient sphinx.between the unreason of faith and sound scientific reason? 9 . inspired lawgivers. Great philosophers from Heraclitus and Plato down to Descartes.  Holy men. Kant. All religions. messiahs. it has devoured them. decided upon this desperate salto mortale is something which no idealist. one after another. and Hegel. no theologian. Spinoza: Leibnitz. no poet. has ever been able to understand himself or explain to the profane.historically explicable no doubt . not to mention the Indian philosophers. in which they have said by the way many beautiful and grand things and discovered immortal truths. have resulted only in rendering this mystery still more incomprehensible. but they have left this mystery. have undertaken anew this labor of Sisyphus. and all the systems of transcendental philosophy hinge on this unique and iniquitous mystery.
It is evident that this terrible mystery is inexplicable . as one of the essential conditions of their own power. judge. the creator. of reading. which sum up the very quintessence of theology: Credo quia absurdum. where it is more widespread than among the proletariat of the cities. not without good reason. regulator. deprived of leisure. to repeat with Tertullianus and all sincere believers these words. curser. The people.that is. in short of all the means and a good portion of the stimulants that develop thought in men. blind. But immediately there arises another question: How comes an intelligent and well-informed man ever to feel the need of believing in this mystery? Nothing is more natural than that the belief in God. should still prevail among the people. savior. These traditions surround them from infancy in all the situations of life. of intellectual intercourse. and benefactor of the world. master. and are kept in ignorance by the systematic efforts of all the governments. especially in the rural districts. and return. if he can. Then all discussion ceases. unfortunately. It is evident that whoever finds it essential to his happiness and life must renounce his reason. and artificially sustained in their minds by a multitude of official poisoners of all 10 . because only the absurd admits of no explanation. Weighted down by their daily labor. the people generally accept religious traditions without criticism and in a lump. to naive. stupid faith. who consider this ignorance. and nothing remains but the triumphant stupidity of faith. absurd. are still very ignorant.
to the minimum of human existence.namely. priests and laymen. In substituting for the at once illusory and brutal enjoyments of bodily and spiritual licentiousness the enjoyments.sorts. without even a future if we believe the economists. intellectually and morally as well as materially. There is another reason which explains and in some sort justifies the absurd beliefs of the people . the third is social revolution. of humanity developed in each and all. without horizon. The first two are the dram-shop and the church.two chimerical and a third real. beliefs and habits much more intimately connected than is generally supposed. Reduced. 11 . the people would have the singularly narrow souls and blunted instincts of the bourgeois if they did not feel a desire to escape. the social revolution alone will have the power to close at the same time all the dram-shops and all the churches. but of escape there are but three methods . confined in their life like a prisoner in his prison. are transformed therein into a sort of mental and moral babit. the wretched situation to which they find themselves fatally condemned by the economic organization of society in the most civilized countries of Europe. as refined as they are real. Hence I conclude this last will be much more potent than all the theological propagandism of the freethinkers to destroy to their last vestige the religious beliefs and dissolute habits of the people. without outlet. debauchery of the body or debauchery of the mind. too often more powerful even than their natural good sense.
down to the smallest vendor of sweetmeats. too intelligent to take the Christian dogmas seriously." For. public and private financiers. This class comprising all the tormentors. must at least make a semblance of believing. tax-leeches. it would be necessary to invent him. There exists. contractors and landlords.Till then the people. all will repeat in unison those words of Voltaire: "If God did not exist. officials of all sorts. but they cling desperately to the principal absurdity. if they do not believe. soldiers. jailers and executioners. priests. they turn up their noses at all the miracles. but have neither the courage nor the strength nor the necessary resolution to summarily renounce them altogether. and. reject them in detail. monopolists. if they have no reason to believe. finally. a somewhat numerous class of honest but timid souls who. and all the exploiters of humanity. to the miracle that explains and justifies all the other miracles. economists. Taken as a whole. policemen. Their God is not the vigorous and powerful 12 . "the people must have a religion. will believe. They abandon to your criticism all the special absurdities of religion. all the oppressors. you understand. There is a class of people who. capitalists. gendarmes. monarchs. politicians of all shades. statesmen." That is the safety-valve. lawyers. the existence of God. they will have at least a right. the source of all the others.
Michelet. In public life these are known as bourgeois Socialists. They are uncertain. and good intention no one will dream of calling in question. were it to disappear. pale phantoms eternally suspended between heaven and earth. great hearts. But there are a few illustrious men of whom no one will dare to speak without respect. And yet they hold fast to it. They have neither the power nor the wish nor the determination to follow out their thought. and they waste their time and pains in constantly endeavouring to reconcile the irreconcilable. illusory being that vanishes into nothing at the first attempt to grasp it. it is a mirage. an ignis fatugs. strength of mind. diaphanous. With them. and consequently of Socialism also.  Generous and strong souls. who have lost their reckoning in the present civilisation. great minds.being. or against them. all would disappear with it. They are too puny. belonging to neither the present nor the future. the brutally positive God of theology. and occupying exactly the same position between the politics of the bourgeois and the Socialism of the proletariat. that neither warms nor illuminates. It is a nebulous. sickly souls. Quinet. John Stuart Mill. and believe that. discussion is out of the question. I need only cite the names of Mazzini. 13 . and the first the heroic and revolutionary regenerator of a great nation. great writers. and whose vigorous health. they are all apostles of idealism and bitter despisers and adversaries of materialism.
and. then. let it be remarked that not one of the illustrious men I have just named nor any other idealistic thinker of any consequence in our day has given any attention to the logical side of this question properly speaking. The fact is that they have neglected the theoretical demonstration of the existence of a God.in philosophy as well as in politics. we must discuss this question. First. They have treated it as a fact universally accepted. Have they feared to approach this irreconcilable contradiction and despaired of solving it after the failures of the greatest geniuses of history. as such. from the pure and eternal regions of spirit into the mire of the material world. This imposing unanimity. no longer susceptible of any doubt whatever. or have they looked upon it as already sufficiently well settled? That is their secret. Giuseppe Mazzini . Joseph de Maistre and the great Italian patriot. and if the reasoning of a small number of 14 . in the eyes of many illustrious men and writers to quote only the most famous of them who eloquently expressed it. and have developed only its practical motives and consequences.is of more value than all the demonstrations of science. Not one has tried to settle philosophically the possibility of the divine salto mortale. for sole proof thereof limiting themselves to the establishment of the antiquity and this very universality of the belief in God. Against them.
Why? Until the days of Copernicus and Galileo everybody believed that the sun revolved about the earth. or wage workers . but isolated. of a belief should be regarded. the general and primitive adoption of an idea. for universal consent. Was not everybody mistaken? What is more ancient and more universal than slavery? Cannibalism perhaps. Must it be concluded that this exploitation and this oppression are necessities absolutely inherent in the very existence of human 15 . then. a conviction that is found ' and maintained always and everywhere. as sufficient and unimpeachable proof of its truth. have believed and still believe in the existence of God. it is clear that those who have the misfortune to doubt it. cannot be mistaken. has always been considered the most triumphant testimony to its truth.logical and even very powerful. and universality. And since it has been established that all peoples. From the origin of historic society down to the present day there has been always and everywhere exploitation of the compulsory labour of the masses . it must have its root in a necessity absolutely inherent in the very nature of man. past and present. they say. oppression of the people by the Church and by the State. monsters.slaves. whatever the logic that led them to this doubt. are abnormal exceptions. Thus.by some dominant minority. thinkers is against it. contrary to all science and all logic. for these thinkers and their logic. serfs. so much the worse. The I sentiment of the whole world. the antiquity.
society? These are examples which show that the argument of the champions of God proves nothing. in fact. in which we see the manifestation of a social law as natural. are the least universal. lies the explanation of a constant historical phenomenon . To us materialists and Revolutionary Socialists. and as invariable as all the other laws which govern the world. In this fact. privileged. in that passion for logic which of itself alone constitutes a great power and outside of which there is no thought. finally. in our love of truth at all hazards. Strong in our conscience. as necessary. strong. strong in our passion for justice and in our unshakeable faith in the triumph of humanity over all theoretical and practical bestialities. after having tortured them. and interested representatives of "universal" and "ancient" beliefs.namely. there is nothing astonishing or terrifying in this historical phenomenon. too. 16 . is as universal or as ancient as the iniquitous and absurd.we resign ourselves to all the consequences of this historical phenomenon. the persecution of which those who first proclaim the truth have been and continue to be the objects at the hands of the official. the youngest features in the development of human society. always end by adopting their ideas and rendering them victorious. in the mutual confidence and support given each other by the few who share our convictions . truth and justice. and often also at the hands of the same masses who. Nothing. on the contrary.
always at the end of history. for 17 . apathetic. sluggish. relatively to the epoch in which we live. psychological. of an idea. for in face of all the scientific. give us dignity. is never at the beginning. far from proving anything in its favour. inevitable consequence of the animal origin. But from the moment that this animal origin of man is accepted. has emerged from the profound darkness of animal instinct into the light of the mind. and happiness. all is explained. let us look ever forward. the only thing that can warm and enlighten us. a wild beast. of the past. cousin of the gorilla. now passionate and powerful. physiological. as well as in face of the exploits of the Germans conquering France. on the contrary. freedom. to lead us to suspect it. of human society. a temporary condition between his animality and his humanity. which explains in a wholly natural way all his past mistakes and partially consoles us for his present errors. then.This law is a logical. He has gone out from animal slavery. the only thing that can emancipate us. and historical proofs accumulated at the present day. It consists precisely in the progressive negation of the primitive animality of man by the development of his humanity. never look back. For behind us is our animality and before us our humanity. but. Whence it results that the antiquity of a belief. History then appears to us as the revolutionary negation. it is no longer possible to really doubt this origin. Let us. and passing through divine slavery. human light. now slow. and realise fraternity among us. Man. which now furnish so striking a demonstration thereof. he is now marching on to the conquest and realisation of human liberty. ought.
if not the perfect identity. we must simply conclude that the divine idea.the similarity. since it is established that all peoples. So much for antiquity. until then we shall never succeed in destroying it in the opinion of the majority. forward our salvation. without issue and without end. it proves but one thing . and even useful and necessary. what we have believed and thought and what we must no longer believe or think. of an error. If it is justifiable. and ask why and how it was produced in history and why an immense majority of the human race still accept it as a truth. at all periods of their life. an outcome of ourselves. to turn back to study our past. in its innumerable 18 . what we have done and what we must do nevermore. all our scientific conviction of its absurdity will be in vain. because we shall never be able to attack it in the very depths of the hut man being where it had birth. Condemned to a fruitless struggle. of human nature in all ages and under all skies. As for the universality. Until we shall account to ourselves for the manner in which the idea of a supernatural or divine world was developed and had to be developed in the historical evolution of the human conscience. have believed and still believe in God. And. we should for ever have to content ourselves with fighting it solely on the surface. it is only in order to establish what we have been and what we must no longer be.forward is our sunlight. is an error historically necessary in the development of humanity.
until then. Footnotes 19 . considering the natural weakness of even the strongest individual against the all-powerful influence of the social surroundings that trammel him. we are always in danger of relapsing sooner or later.manifestations. it will never fail to bring forth new offspring. It is not only in the interest of the masses. and. for. Spiritualism tends to establish itself upon the ruins of Christianity. Thus. remains intact. While the root of all the absurdities that torment the world. until we comprehend these causes. it is in that of the health of our own minds. at the present time. in one way or another. that we should strive to understand the historic genesis. whose absurdity will be scarcely beaten down by the blows of common sense before it will reappear in a new form no less nonsensical. in certain sections of the highest society. belief in God. we shall always suffer ourselves to be more or less governed by the clamours of this universal conscience whose secret we have not discovered. into the abyss of religious absurdity. Examples of these shameful conversions are frequent in society today. the succession of causes which developed and produced the idea of God in the consciousness of men. In vain shall we call and believe ourselves Atheists.
he is a passionate admirer. that Mr. this mystery has been and still continues to be the consecration of all the horrors which have been and are being committed in the world.  Mr. God and the State. an adherent of the positive philosphy of Auguste Comte. I call it unique. Bakunin. Stuart Mill is perhaps the only one whose serious idealism may be fairly doubted. is realy Atheistic. Stuart Mill is English. and that for two resons: first. in spite of its numerous reservations. that if not absolutely the disciple. second. a philosophy which. and in England to proclaim oneself an Atheist is to ostracise oneself. 1871 II I have stated the chief practical reason of the power still exercised today over the masses by religious beliefs. as I believe I have proved In the Appendix alluded to. even at this late day. These mystical tendencies do not signify in man 20 . because all the other theological and metaphysical absurdities which debase the human mind are but its necessary consequences. I call it "iniquitous" because.
they attributed them to 21 . The history of religion. the sorrows. In the meantime I have endeavored to show the causes responsible for the birth and historical development of religious hallucinations in the human conscience. As fast as they discovered.so much an aberration of mind as a deep discontent at Heart. either in themselves or in external nature. They are the instinctive and passionate protest of the human being against the narrowness. Here it is my purpose to treat this question of the existence of a God. and their prophets. grandeur. but enlarged and reversed . Consequently.Social Revolution. regarding the theoretical grounds of this belief. or even any great defect whatever. but the development of the collective intelligence and conscience of mankind. their messiahs and their saints. the platitudes. and I shall say only a few words. were created by the credulous fancy of men who had not attained the full development and full possession of their faculties. of the birth. exalted by ignorance and faith. in the course of their historically progressive advance. For this malady. discovers his own image. with their gods. a quality. All religions. a power. to better explain my thought. there is but one remedy . and decline of the gods who have succeeded one another in human belief. divinized. I have already said. their demigods. the religious heaven is nothing but a mirage in which man. therefore. solely from the standpoint of its moral and social utility. or of the divine origin of the world and of man.that is. is nothing. and the shame of a wretched existence.
heaven has grown rich with the spoils of the earth. his real creator. But whoever says revelation says revealers. by an act of their religious fancy. God being master. and death. which is the impoverishment. the more wretched became humanity and the earth. after having exaggerated and enlarged them beyond measure. he was naturally proclaimed the cause. messiahs. impotence. the richer heaven became. the real world and man are nothing. ugliness. once recognized as the representatives of divinity on earth. beauty. and. man is falsehood. after having unknowingly extracted him from the void. worshipped him. priests. to the fullest extent. power. as the holy 22 . he can attain them only through a divine revelation. Incapable of finding justice. God being truth. God being everything. prophets. and eternal life by his own effort. and life. by a necessary consequence. evil. arbiter and absolute disposer of all things: the world thenceforth was nothing. enslavement. the very nature and essence of every religious system. because it exhibits and manifests. and avowed himself his creature and his slave. justice. goodness.their gods. and these. bowed down before him. and annihilation of humanity for the benefit of divinity. Christianity is precisely the religion par excellence. man is the slave. God was all. iniquity. and legislators inspired by God himself. after the manner of children. God once installed. reason. Thanks to this modesty and pious generosity of believing and credulous men. and man. truth.
has proclaimed and realized with rigorous logic. then. in this mystical alphabet. for against the divine reason there is no human reason. or poets: The idea of God implies the abdication of human reason and justice. or Protestant Methodists desire it. Slaves of God. philosophers. then. 23 . which included only distinct and privileged nations. not excepting even the old Oriental religions. legitimate. and divine church. understood. This truth Christianity. to the metaphysicians and religious idealists. He who. and this truth Roman Catholicism. and against the justice of God no terrestrial justice holds.instructors of humanity. both in theory and practice. chosen by God himself to direct it in the path of salvation. alone among all the Christian sects. it is the most decisive negation of human liberty. must not make the slightest concession either to the God of theology or to the God of metaphysics. men must also be slaves of Church and State. as the Jesuits desire it. All men owe them passive and unlimited obedience. better than all other religions that exist or have existed. we may not. why the Apostolic and Roman Church is the only consistent. Unless. as the mÙmiers. With all due respect. while Christianity aspires to embrace entire humanity. the final religion. politicians. necessarily exercise absolute power. in so far as the State is consecrated by the Church. we desire the enslavement and degradation of mankind. That is why Christianity is the absolute religion. and necessarily ends in the enslavement of mankind. pietists.
and reduce them to imbecility. If God is.begins with A will inevitably end with Z. now. ever tipping the balance to the side of triumphant knaves. and make it a sign and source of servitude. I defy anyone whomsoever to avoid this circle. 24 .is the divine executioner. for all rest principally on the idea of sacrifice . man is a slave. God does not exist. therefore. Is it necessary to point out to what extent and in what manner religions debase and corrupt the people? They destroy their reason. They dishonor human labor.that is. on the perpetual immolation of humanity to the insatiable vengeance of divinity. he who desires to worship God must harbor no childish illusions about the matter. privileged objects of divine indulgence. the essential condition of their slavery. now. but a man privileged by grace . let all choose. All religions are cruel. They kill the idea and sentiment of human justice. They kill human pride and dignity. man can and must be free. all founded on blood. protecting only the cringing and humble.a man also. and the priest . They stifle in the heart of nations every feeling of human fraternity. but bravely renounce his liberty and humanity. then. the principal instrument of human emancipation. In this bloody mystery man is always the victim. filling it with divine cruelty instead.
nor even the at once immanent. defined in any way whatever. and. The God whom they adore. is distinguished from the real gods of history precisely in this . whether he created or did not create the world. they have cursed and branded all these misdeeds. None know all this better than our illustrious contemporary idealists. They are learned men. transcendental. He is neither the supreme being of Robespierre and J. They reject with indignation all solidarity with the God of positive religions and with his representatives. They take good care not to give him any positive definition whatever. all these crimes of religion with an eloquence unparalleled. the best. almost always have at the bottom of their hearts .that he is not at all a positive god. and on earth. All that might compromise 25 . Rousseau. in their minds (and we know the fearful influence of either on the hearts of men) .something cruel and sanguinary. who know history by heart. as they are at the same time living men. or whom they think they adore. They will not say whether be is a personal or impersonal god. great souls penetrated with a sincere and profound love for the welfare of humanity.and. theologically or even metaphysically. in their imaginations. present. the gentlest. if not in their hearts. J. nor the pantheistic god of Spinoza.That explains why the priests of all religions. they will not even speak of his divine providence. and very equivocal god of Hegel. past. the most humane. feeling very strongly that any definition would subject him to the dissolving power of criticism.
human to them. and they wish humanity. This gives their propaganda an appearance of wealth and vital power. drawing its inspiration much less from the severe development of a thought than from the experiences. they call one divine and the other bestial. They are not strong on logic." Ah! because King William of Prussia and Napoleon III. historical and collective as well as individual. noble. and gives their ideas the character of a practical idealism. and one might say that they despise it. between which they place humanity. and that to separate them is to destroy them. I might almost say the emotions. then. "Man. Real humanity presents a mixture of all I that is most sublime and beautiful with all that is vilest and most monstrous in the world. They either will not or cannot understand that these three terms are really but one. it is an aspiration. That is what distinguishes them from the pantheistical and deistical metaphysicians. of life. and all their compeers are likewise men: which bothers them very much. But. But why. beautiful. How do they get over this? Why. This contradiction lies here: they wish God. They 26 .him. for life itself becomes sterile when paralyzed by a logical contradiction. then. good. but an appearance only. do they not say. what is their God? Not even an idea. They content themselves with saying "God" and nothing more. representing divinity and animality as two poles. It is the generic name of all that seems grand.
and. flying in the face of good sense and all the teachings of history. For. nor prosperity are possible for him. whose names so celebrated and so justly respected I have cited. remains none the less always a master. it would be necessary to abolish him. justice. In vain. I reverse the phrase of Voltaire. can come together again only to destroy each other. and say that. if God existed. now. nor equality. if God really existed. if such a master exists. equality. absolute master. His existence necessarily implies the slavery of all that is beneath him.by ceasing to exist.regardless of the fatal logic by virtue of which. he is necessarily the eternal. supreme.persist in connecting two terms which. only in one way could he serve human liberty . do they represent their God as animated by the tenderest love of human liberty: a master. once separated. fraternity. and should not have perceived the contradiction in which they involve themselves in speaking of 27 . A jealous lover of human liberty. if he is a slave. Therefore. They say in a single breath: "God and the liberty of man. The severe logic that dictates these words is far too evident to require a development of this argument. neither justice. And it seems to me impossible that the illustrious men. nor fraternity. whoever he may be and however liberal he may desire to show himself." "God and the dignity. and deeming it the absolute condition of all that we admire and respect in humanity. prosperity of men" . all these things are condemned to non-existence. should not have been struck by it themselves. man is a slave. if God is. if God exists.
To have disregarded it. We may misunderstand them or not know them at all. Yes. while speaking of liberty as something very respectable and very dear in their eyes. even when we believe that we disobey them. regulate all our movements. they envelop us. it is not slavery at all. they must have considered this inconsistency or logical license practically necessary to humanity's well-being. and acts. But in such slavery there is no humiliation. penetrate us. they give the term a meaning quite different from the conception entertained by us. materialists and Revolutionary Socialists. Indeed. What is authority? Is it the inevitable power of the natural laws which manifest themselves in the necessary concatenation and succession of phenomena in the physical and social worlds? Indeed. Perhaps. they constitute our being. authority . we are absolutely the slaves of these laws. thoughts. we only show their omnipotence. too. they never speak of it without immediately adding another word. a legislator outside of him whom he commands. or. while these laws are not outside of us. but we cannot disobey them. they are inherent in us.God and human liberty at once. our whole 28 . against these laws revolt is not only forbidden .a word and a thing which we detest with all our heart.it is even impossible. rather. For slavery supposes an external master. because they constitute the basis and fundamental conditions of our existence.
exercise an authority which is never disputed by the mass of men. The great misfortune is that a large number of natural laws. physically . we think. once recognized. we are not. acknowledge the government of common sense that is. then. as we know. we breathe. One must. One must have faith to imagine that fire will not burn nor water drown. for instance.that of recognizing and applying them on an ever-extending scale in conformity with the object of collective and individual emancipation or humanization which he pursues. only for the 29 . we act. already established as such by science. we wish only through these laws.being. rather. recourse be had to some subterfuge founded in its turn on some other natural law. or. of the sum of the natural laws generally recognized . jurist. and morally: we live. are decidedly. indeed. the exception. or bourgeois economist to rebel against the law by which twice two make four.intellectually. for. except. could we derive the power and the wish to rebel against them? In his relation to natural laws but one liberty is possible to man .in an almost absolute fashion. Without them we are nothing. in general. Whence. thanks to the watchfulness of these tutelary governments that exist. these attempts at or foolish fancies of an impossible revolt. be at bottom either a fool or a theologian or at least a metaphysician. remain unknown to the masses. in their daily lives. But these revolts. These laws. it may be said that the mass of men.
The most stubborn authorities must admit that then there will be no need either of political organization or direction or legislation. by means of an extensive system of popular education and instruction.namely. and even should they conform to the system of natural laws . three things which. whether they emanate from the will of the sovereign or from the vote of a parliament elected by universal suffrage. as the laws that govern the physical world.which has never been the case and never will be the case . collective or individual. invariable. There is another difficulty . composed of the most illustrious representatives 30 . and then from science. divine or human. fatal.good of the people. have not been duly established and recognized by science itself.are always equally fatal and hostile to the liberty of the masses from the very fact that they impose upon them a system of external and therefore despotic laws. Once they shall have been recognized by science. the question of liberty will be entirely solved. that the major portion of the natural laws connected with the development of human society. which are quite as necessary. Suppose a learned academy. shall have passed into the consciousness of all. The liberty of man consists solely in this: that he obeys natural laws because he has himself recognized them as such. and not because they have been externally imposed upon him by any extrinsic will whatever.
I maintain. It would surely and rapidly descend to the lowest stage of idiocy. suppose this academy charged with legislation for and the organization of society. that such legislation and such organization would be a monstrosity. not because it understood itself the rational character of this legislation (in which case the existence of the academy would become useless). was imposed in the name of a science which it venerated without comprehending . 31 . inspired only by the purest love of truth. that human science is always and necessarily imperfect. and that. So that were we to try to force the practical life of men. It would be a second edition of those missions in Paraguay which submitted so long to the government of the Jesuits.such a society would be a society. we may say that it is still in its cradle. but because this legislation. for my part. Well. collective as well as individual. into strict and exclusive conformity with the latest data of science. emanating from the academy. it frames none but laws in absolute harmony with the latest discoveries of science. but of brutes. and that. and that for two reasons: first. life ever remaining an infinitely greater thing than science.of science. not of men. which would soon end by dislocating and stifling them. The second reason is this: a society which should obey legislation emanating from a scientific academy. comparing what it has discovered with what remains to be discovered. we should condemn society as well as individuals to suffer martyrdom on a bed of Procrustes.
inevitably lapses into sluggishness. the supreme condition of liberty and humanity. and that troublesome and savage energy characteristic of the grandest geniuses. is a man depraved in mind and heart. ever called to destroy old tottering worlds and lay the foundations of new. such is the history of all academies. from the moment that he becomes an academician. He loses his spontaneity. Even today. The principal object of this treatise is precisely to demonstrate this truth in all the manifestations of human life. so to speak. absolute. even if it were composed of the most illustrious men. That is a social law which admits of no exception. would infallibly and soon end in its own moral and intellectual corruption.namely that a scientific academy invested with a sovereignty. The privileged man. It is the law of equality. It is the characteristic of privilege and of every privileged position to kill the mind and heart of men. in utilitarian and practical wisdom. and is as applicable to entire nations as to classes. his revolutionary hardihood. and individuals. with the few privileges allowed them.But there is still a third reason which would render such a government impossible . he becomes corrupted. A scientific body to which had been confided the government of society would soon end by devoting itself no longer to science at all. He undoubtedly gains in politeness. corporations. but to quite another 32 . whether politically or economically. an officially licensed savant. what he loses in power of thought. The greatest scientific genius. In a word.
finally form a sort of political aristocracy or oligarchy. their knowledge. their character. even those chosen by universal suffrage.one. I consult that of the architect or engineer. being inseparable from the other. concerning houses. but this does not prevent the formation in a few years' time of a body of politicians. Consequently. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence. Witness the United States of America and Switzerland.affair. or railroads. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. privileged in fact though not in law. canals. reserving always my incontestable right of 33 . as in the case of all established powers. it is true. and both tending to the servitude of society and the degradation of the legislators themselves. Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. who. and that affair. But that which is true of scientific academies is also true of all constituent and legislative assemblies. I refer to the authority of the bootmaker. no external legislation and no authority . would be its own eternal perpetuation by rendering the society confided to its care ever more stupid and consequently more in need of its government and direction. In the latter case they may renew their composition. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor the savant to impose his authority upon me. In the matter of boots. for that matter. devoting themselves exclusively to the direction of the public affairs of a country.
The greatest intelligence would not be equal to a comprehension of the whole. to a certain extent and as long as may seem to me necessary. an instrument of the will and interests of others. and even to the success of my undertakings. for science as well as for industry. it is because their authority is imposed upon me by no one. for such scraps of truth. their indications and even their directions. whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such an individual. I consult several. I have no absolute faith in any person. neither by men nor by God. in all its details and positive developments. and their services. Thence results. Otherwise I would repel them with horror. and choose that which seems to me the soundest. their directions. I bow before the authority of special men because it is imposed upon me by my own reason. But I recognize no infallible authority. I receive and I give . and bid the devil take their counsels. by the loss of my liberty and self-respect. it would immediately transform me into a stupid slave. If I bow before the authority of the specialists and avow my readiness to follow. I do not content myself with consulting authority in any special branch. even in special questions. Such a faith would be fatal to my reason.criticism censure. I am conscious of my inability to grasp. I compare their opinions. to my liberty.such is human life. as they might give me. any very large portion of human knowledge. certain that they would make me pay. consequently. Each directs 34 . wrapped in a multitude of lies. the necessity of the division and association of labor.
and is directed in his turn. Therefore there is no fixed and constant authority. to recognize a fixed. without which the application of science to life is impossible. second. To sum up. because his authority would inevitably reduce all the others to slavery and imbecility. finally. We recognize. still less accord them any privileges or exclusive rights whatsoever. and degrade him. and that for three reasons: first. then. This same reason forbids me. through such a system of privileges. but neither do I think it should indulge them too far. and. And if such universality could ever be realized in a single man. and if be wished to take advantage thereof to impose his authority upon us. I do not think that society ought to maltreat men of genius as it has done hitherto. all the branches of social life. 35 . voluntary authority and subordination. it might transform into a charlatan even a real man of genius. it would be necessary to drive this man out of society. because. because it would often mistake a charlatan for a man of genius. and universal authority. then. and. but a continual exchange of mutual. as well-considered and systematic as possible. no man capable of grasping in that wealth of detail. temporary. all the sciences. above all. constant. the absolute authority of science. demoralize him. of the natural laws inherent in the material. because the sole object of science is the mental reproduction. because there is no universal man. because it would establish a master over itself.
we will suffer neither pope. and. legitimate because rational and in harmony with human liberty. but one and the same natural world. the Christian Christ. the universe. It is evident that such a science. while the completion and perfection of our Christ. nor conclaves of infallible cardinals. science.intellectual. presents himself as a perfect being. arbitrary and fatal. I mean by the words "absolute science. and moral life of both the physical and the social worlds.in our church. we declare all other authorities false. like the Protestants. to its fullest extent and in all its infinite detail. Outside of this only legitimate authority. more logical even than the Protestants. we have a chief. are ever in the future: which is equivalent to saying that they will never be realized. nor council. the system or coordination of all the natural laws manifested by the incessant development of the world. as in the Protestant church. ours impersonal. In our church . science.that the latter is a personal being. already completed in an eternal past.if I may be permitted to use for a moment an expression which I so detest: Church and State are my two bÍtes noires ." which would reproduce ideally. these two worlds constituting. nor bishops. nor even priests. Our Christ differs from the Protestant and Christian Christ in this . in recognizing absolute science as the only absolute authority. We recognize the absolute authority of science. we in no way compromise our liberty. but we reject the infallibility and universality of the savant. an invisible Christ. in fact. the sublime object of all the efforts 36 . Therefore.
who is the real world. universal. enjoying. and very restricted authority of the representatives of special sciences. we willingly bow before the respectable. great experience. exercise over us a natural and legitimate influence. of which he (the Son) is only a too imperfect expression. we appeal to God the Father. officially imposed as such. working. quite temporary. loving. then. and. above all. on condition of their willingness to receive from us on occasions when. and concerning matters about which. great minds. struggling. will never be fully and absolutely realized. and suffering. are its immediate representatives. whilst we real beings. aspiring. celestial or terrestrial. while rejecting the absolute. will remain eternally unfinished. although relative. for every authority or every influence of right. and never imposed in the name of any official authority whatsoever. becoming directly an oppression and a falsehood. In general. Our Christ. would inevitably impose upon us. asking nothing better than to consult them by turns. Against that God the Son in whose name they assume to impose upon us their insolent and pedantic authority. which must considerably take down the pride of his licensed representatives among us. living. we are more learned than they. great hearts. real life. we ask nothing better than to see men endowed with great knowledge. But. as I believe I 37 . but none of right.of the human mind. We accept all natural authorities and all influences of fact. and infallible authority of men of science. freely accepted. and very grateful for such precious information as they may extend to us.
all authority. abstractly poetical. a last attempt to divinise all that constitutes humanity in men. would restore to heaven. official. Their religion is. This authority is not that of a truth miraculously revealed. finally unmasked. This is the sense in which we are really Anarchists. on the contrary. the grandest. we reject all legislation. even though arising from universal suffrage. On behalf of human liberty. In a word. that divine robber. endeavouring to commit a final religiously heroic larceny. an absolute meaning. they nevertheless attach to this idea of authority a divine. They. ideally. convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominant minority of exploiters against the interests of the immense majority in subjection to them. finest and noblest 38 . and all privileged. They base it to a slight extent upon quasi-philosophical reasoning.have sufficiently shown. slavery and absurdity. and to a large extent also on sentiment. nor that of a truth rigorously and scientifically demonstrated. dignity and prosperity. as it were. The modern idealists understand authority in quite a different way. Although free from the traditional superstitions of all the existing positive religions. we believe it our duty to recover from heaven the goods which it has stolen and return them to earth. and legal influence. This is just the opposite of the work that we are doing. licensed.
in order to exercise greater authority among men. a sort of metaphysical pietism. must be invested with a divine sanction. in so few words. whatever is just. This seems harmless. and beautiful in humanity is to tacitly admit that humanity of itself would have been unable to produce it 39 . becomes a priest. The idealists undoubtedly believe that human ideas and deeds. is their whole philosophy: a philosophy of sentiments. It is now the freethinker's turn to pillage heaven by their audacious piety and scientific analysis. but by the very grandeur of sanctity of the ideas and deeds: whatever is grand.namely. And the proof? He needs none beyond the very grandeur of the ideas which he expresses and the deeds which he performs. These are so holy that they can have been inspired only by God. very narrow and very barren doctrine hidden under the intangible vagueness of these poetic forms leads to the same disastrous results that all the positive religions lead to . How is this sanction manifested? Not by a miracle.of humanity's possessions. just. but it is not so at all. whatever is noble. the most complete negation of human liberty and dignity. and the very precise. Such. is considered divine. as in the positive religions. by these deeds. In this new religious cult every man inspired by these ideas. not of real thoughts. To proclaim as divine all that is grand. noble. whatever is beautiful. directly consecrated by God himself.
and all the horrors. in the world. follies. base deeds. From the moment that God. it becomes necessary to admit also all the theological. Thus we come back to the essence of all religion . the inspired of God spring from the earth to enlighten. political. surely. May we not suppose that all men are equally inspired by God? Then. divine mediators. and govern in his name the human race.Dio e Popolo. only a few men are divinely inspired. and social consequences of the positive religions. the elect. because it is too clearly contradicted by the facts. abandoned to itself. its own nature is miserable. and cowardly actions which are committed. direct. the perfect and supreme being.such as these should be called to the government of human societies. unaided by any divine inspiration. Giuseppe Mazzini. 40 . to the comprehension of just and true ideas. iniquitous. and ugly. as the illustrious Italian citizen and prophet. But this supposition is impossible. the virtuous geniuses. that. . to the disparagement of humanity for the greater glory of divinity. And from the moment that the natural inferiority of man and his fundamental incapacity to rise by his own effort. But perhaps. there is no further use for mediators. base.. It would compel us to attribute to divine inspiration all the absurdities and errors which appear. are admitted.that is. Immediately inspired by God himself and supported upon universal consent expressed by popular suffrage . the great men of history. is posited face to face with humanity. then. called them.in other words.
and terrible child. in this system. indebted for its existence. The State will no longer call itself Monarchy. and just as in the preambles of the imperial decrees of Napoleon III.on the (pretended) will of the people. and dispense with their discipline . rise to the knowledge of his teachers. the Church will no longer call itself Church. but supported this time . will be the perpetual scholar and pupil. to the grace of God. It is true that in this new organization. In spite of 41 . and the people will remain what they have been hitherto from all eternity.at least so far as form is concerned. shepherds. the pupil confessedly forever incompetent to pass his examinations. incorrigible. for where there is a flock there necessarily must be shepherds also to shear and devour it. Beware of shearers. but they will be none the less tutors. men of virtuous genius or talent.the people. it will call itself Republic: but it will be none the less the State . The professors of the School and the functionaries of the State will call themselves republicans.that is. it will call itself School. like all the old political organisations. The people. as a necessary concession to the spirit of modern times. a flock. What matters it? On the benches of this School will be seated not children only. the people.But here we are again fallen back under the yoke of Church and State. who will watch and guide the conduct of this great. a tutelage officially and regularly established by a minority of competent men. . there will be found the eternal minor.
it will continue to serve as the instrument of thoughts. Between this situation and what we call liberty. not. Yes. wholly fictitious. historical proofs are not lacking. the only real liberty. It will be the old oppression and old slavery under new forms.the Greek and the 42 . In defying human things the idealists always end in the triumph of a brutal materialism.its sovereignty. and consequently interests not its own. wills. the necessary consequence of theoretical idealism is practically the most brutal materialism. but which explains itself naturally enough upon further reflection. undoubtedly. among those who sincerely preach it the usual result as far as they are concerned being that they are constrained to see all their efforts struck with sterility . To demonstrate this general fact. which may appear strange at first. Compare the last two civilisations of the ancient world . and in all society so far as it allows itself to be dominated by idealistic doctrines. among the privileged classes as well as among the masses. brutishness. And this for a very simple reason: the divine evaporates and rises to its own country. there is an abyss. real social materialism. while the brutal alone remains actually on earth. heaven.but among those who try to realise their precepts in life. and where there is slavery there is misery.
and the primary concepts of human respect. Which is the most materialistic. it ennobled and really idealised the life of men. it created through liberty the sciences. And its last word? The omnipotence of the Caesars. in spite of these two immense defects. Which means the degradation and enslavement of nations and of men. With political and social liberty. Which on the contrary. a poetry. represented by the abstraction of judicial law. including that of Rome. But. At the close of the Middle Ages. and the natural development of human society to the abstraction of the State . that is the name of the Greek civilisation. 43 . It is true that the Greek civilisation. humanity. during the period of the Renaissance. in its point of departure. it transformed human herds into free associations of free men. it created free thought. an immortal philosophy. certainly.Roman. and the most humanly ideal in its results? Undoubtedly the Greek civilisation. thought.sacrificing the material liberty of the man to the ideal liberty of the citizen. the former none the less conceived and realised the idea of humanity. And the name of the Roman civilisation? Conquest. Human emancipation. liberty. the arts. buried in the dark dungeon of Catholicism. was exclusively national and based on slavery. is the most abstractly ideal in its point of departure .and which became nevertheless the most brutal in its consequences? The Roman civilisation. the fact that some Greek emigrants brought a few of those immortal books into Italy sufficed to resuscitate life. like all the ancient civilisations. with all its brutal consequences. the most natural.
the Italian and the German. the second. and free thought. commerce. poetry. and to restore to humanity its titles to nobility: industry. Italy. She was the first to resuscitate and widely apply the principle of liberty in Europe. even bourgeois Italy.one may live and breathe humanly. Compare now two modern civilisations . materialism. The first undoubtedly represents. most pure. what is it that kills.I speak 44 . what is it that crushes brutally. Italy has already rendered immense services to the cause of human emancipation. surrounded by a people which seems to be born for liberty.In Germany one breathes the atmosphere of an immense political and social slavery. she reappears today. materially. the positive sciences. can point with pride to men like Mazzini and Garibaldi.temporary let us hope . in a very degraded condition in comparison with what she once was.Today even. in its general character. in spite of this decline . Crushed since by three centuries of imperial and papal despotism. philosophically explained and accepted by a great people with deliberate resignation and free will. and most transcendental form. Her heroes . And yet how much she differs from Germany! In Italy. liberty and humanity? It is the triumph of the Caesarian or Roman principle. and dragged in the mud by her governing bourgeoisie. on the contrary. represents idealism in its most abstract. Let us see what are the practical fruits of the one and the other. in all European countries. the arts. . it is true.
since her definitive establishment as a unitary power. What is there more sublime. Messrs. more separate from all the interests of this earth. in the ideal sense. not of the Germany of the future. naturally. has been slowly. her revenues first. she has become a menace. systematically invading. Bismarck and Moltke. one needs only to cite the example of all the Christian Churches. and. political and bourgeoisie Germany. Generals Manteuffel and Werder. ever ready to extend her own voluntary enslavement into the territory of her neighbours. To show how theoretical idealism incessantly and inevitably changes into practical materialism. In all her international relations Germany. her political privileges. a danger to the liberty of entire Europe. than the doctrine of Christ preached by that Church? And what is there more brutally materialistic than the constant practice of that same Church since the eighth century. bureaucratic. that of the Apostolic and Roman Church.always of present Germany. We must do her the justice to acknowledge that she was the first to 45 .her heroes are quite the opposite of Mazzini and Garibaldi: they are William I.. more disinterested. from which dates her definitive establishment as a power? What has been and still is the principal object of all her contests with the sovereigns of Europe? Her temporal goods. of aristocratic. that ferocious and ingenuous representative of the Protestant God. and. Today Germany is servility brutal and triumphant. conquering. first of all. from the beginning of her existence. not of the Germany of the prolÈtaires . and then her temporal power.
better than divine grace. better than the martyrdom and faith of the apostles. history in hand. their temporal sovereigns. which in their own country are very covetous and very pious at the same time. the economic exploitation and the political oppression of the masses. and both assuring. and the Protestant Churches do not fail to recognise it either. of the independent churches of England. order them to do. the success of the Christian propagandism. not of the subjected churches of Germany. are the two inseparable terms of the reign of divine ideality on earth: wealth consolidating and augmenting power. that the Church. and it is known also that the objects of the latter propagandism is not at all the enrichment and material prosperity of the countries into which it penetrates in company with the Word of God. Christian and non-Christian. America. but rather the exploitation of those countries with a view to the enrichment and material prosperity of certain classes. power ever discovering and creating new sources of wealth. by the side of their spiritualistic propagandism. is very intimately connected with the propagandism of the material. I speak. it is not at all difficult to prove. and Switzerland. and probably to accelerate and consolidate the 46 . they do what their masters. who are at the same time their spiritual chieftains. It is well known that the Protestant propagandism. this incontestable but scarcely Christian truth that wealth and power. In a word. that all the Churches. especially in England and America.discover. commercial interests of those two great nations. The latter have no initiative of their own. in modern history. This is a historical truth. of course.
the Girardins. and the liberals without doctrine . their journalists and their savants . who are today the most obstinate defenders of idealism? In the first places all the sovereign courts.the Cssagnacs. always and everywhere. and his wife. that the action of the good God and of all the divine idealities on earth has ended at last. that all the States. and ex-marshals. until lately. with all their political and judicial institutions and their dominant and privileged classes have been only temporal branches of these various Churches have likewise had principally in view this same exploitation for the benefit of lay minorities indirectly sanctioned by the Church. have never neglected to organise themselves into great corporations for the economic exploitation of the masses under the protection and with the direct and special blessing of some divinity or other. In France. the Veuillots. the Duvernois. finally and in general. the men and women of this imperial world. who have so completely idealised and saved France. all their former ministers. the Thiers. the Jules 47 . in founding the prosperous materialism of the few over the fanatical and constantly famishing idealism of the masses. from Rouher and Bazaine to Fleury and PiÈtri.the Guizots. which originally. the doctrinaire liberals. the Dumas. Napoleon III. courtiers. as we know. the black phalanx of Jesuits and Jesuitesses in every garb. the whole upper and middle bourgeoisie of France.success thereof. We have a new proof of this in what we see today. With the exception of the great hearts and great minds whom I have before referred to as misled. Madame EugÈnie. the Leverriers.
tending to realise the greatest liberty and the human right of each in the fraternity of all men on the earth. in short. in Germany. has just conquered France in that ideal way we know so well. of human reason. is raised by the practical idealism of the oppressed and famishing masses. the renunciation of science. should be sufficient to drive every great mind. all the butchers and pious proselyters of Poland. Pomeranian and other. not of heaven. every great heart.and who are the materialists? It is evident that the essential condition of theoretical or divine idealism is the sacrifice of logic. further. the red flag of economic equality and social justice. it would seem. and the Jules Simons. the one being but the more or less free translation of the other. strong in its religious faith. Who are the real idealists . We see. serves today as the flag of material. religious or philosophical idealism. In Russia. on the contrary. but of earth . How does it happen that our illustrious 48 . that in defending the doctrines of idealism one finds himself enlisted perforce in the ranks of the oppressors and exploiters of the masses. William I. of shameless material exploitation.the idealists not of abstraction. while. Everywhere. bloody. the Pelletans.Favres. These are two great reasons which. which. all obstinate defenders of the bourgeoisie exploitation. the present royal demonstrator of the good God on earth. all his generals. the flag of theoretical materialism. the Czar and his court. but of life. the Mouravieffs and the Bergs. In Prussia. from idealism. all his officers. all his army.. and brutal force.
according to the materialistic school. be a powerful moral motive. It must. the basis and point of departure of the idealistic school being ideal. implies the negation of its point of departure. and that materialistic theories. These illustrious men think. and who have devoted their entire existence to the service of humanity how does it happen that they persist in remaining among the representatives of a doctrine henceforth condemned and dishonoured? They must be influenced by a very powerful motive. since these men are infinitely above everything of that sort. nor heart. Per contra. no doubt. then. Which? There can be but one. and for the same reason. I have said. Starting from the totality of the real world. that idealistic theories or beliefs are essentially necessary to the moral dignity and grandeur of man. No more can it be personal interests. being material. And if the truth were just the opposite! Every development.that is. since logic and science have pronounced their verdict against the idealistic doctrine. who certainly lack neither mind. it arrives necessarily at 49 . reduce him to the level of the beasts. on the contrary. it logically arrives at the real idealisation . at the full and complete emancipation of society. the negation must be necessarily ideal. or from what is abstractly called matter. The basis or point of departure. nor good will.contemporary idealists. at the humanisation. It cannot be logic or science.
They begin by a terrible fall. idealism starts from divinity to establish slavery and condemn the masses to an endless animality. the object and chief significance of history. Materialism rejects the principle of authority. in the system of the idealists. the triumph of humanity.by the salto mortale. materialism starts from animality to establish humanity. we always find this same essential contradiction between the two schools. and because. as I have said. while you will see the materialists pursuing and realising the most grandly ideal aspirations and thoughts. in the idealistic system it can be nothing but a continuous fall. History. under the form of Church and State. proclaims free will. In a word. as I have already observed. in the name of human dignity. from which they never recover . Thus. you will always find the idealists in the very act of practical materialism. Whatever human question we may desire to consider. The historical development of man according to the materialistic school. is a progressive ascension.the materialisation of society. idealism. Materialism denies free will and ends in the establishment of liberty. can be nothing but a continuous fall. and on the ruins of every liberty founds authority. can be realised only through liberty. because it rightly considers it as the corollary of animality. at the organization of a brutal despotism and an iniquitous and ignoble exploitation. from the sublime regions of pure and absolute idea into 50 . on the contrary.
who have stripped it of everything to give everything to their emperor. is a miracle. but into abstract matter. in opposition to the divine idea. and never more recovers it. into the matter which. impenetrability. full of properties and forces. the divine person or idea. The fall is so terrible that divinity. a new formation. loses consciousness of itself. And into what kind of matter ! Not into the matter which is eternally active and mobile. the theologians and metaphysicians. Here it would seem as if it must become itself again. In this way it passes through all degrees of materiality and bestiality . as we see it in the real world. to their God. in vain endeavouring to grasp some vague memory of itself. for it lights in every human being an angelic spark. then awakens slowly. simple or compound chemical substance. gas. of life and intelligence. inertia and immobility. a new miracle. is flattened out. lies some thousands of centuries in this swoon. mineral.first. a particle of its own 51 . it then spreads over the earth as vegetable and animal organization till it concentrates itself in man. represents. impoverished and reduced to absolute misery by the regular looting of these Prussians of thought. from the action of God upon matter. degraded and half annihilated by its fall. deprived of all action and movement of its own. nothing but absolute stupidity. even the most material. every movement that takes place in the world.matter. And in this desperate situation it is still forced to work miracles ! For from the moment that matter becomes inert. and every move that it makes in this direction upon matter becomes a creation. And there this poor Divinity. can result only from a providential intervention.
It follows that the divine being. it can contain only a very small particle. a sort of focus for self-concentration. We should have an immense quantity of Gods. mind. But each man considered individually is infinitely too limited. can solve. limit.a contradiction which would imply a mutual destruction of men. Divinity.divine being. enclose. an impossibility of the existence of more than one. lost and scattered in the matter which it animates and sets in motion. immortal like the whole. how can the body contain. the absolutely immaterial being. After thousands of centuries of vain efforts to come back to itself. Here. is divisible like matter. It is the greatest of miracles. then each man would be God. This focus is man his immortal soul singularly imprisoned in a mortal body. however. again. to enclose the divine immensity. the practical consequences of this miracle. How did it manage to lodge a thing absolutely immaterial in a thing absolutely material. If God entire could find lodgment in each man. paralyse pure spirit? This. As for 52 . that passionate and stupid affirmation of the absurd. we have only to establish the effects. but infinitely smaller than the whole. each limited by all the others and yet none the less infinite . finds a point of support. Another mystery whose solution must be left to faith. too small. the immortal soul. is one of those questions which faith alone.
But these same attributes of relative limitation and grandeur cannot be attributed to mind as the idealists conceive it. Here then we have Divinity torn up and lodged.the particles. in the midst of this state of barbarism and wholly animal brutality. It is Divinity itself. scattered and lost in the natural world. to be greater and smaller are attributes of matter. they seek each other. mind is only the working of the wholly material organism of man. But this is a question of faith. which looks 53 . in an immense number of beings of all sexes. than that one particle should be limited by another and be smaller than the whole. and colours. for there is only one mind . Moreover. it is true. Only. There can be neither greater nor smaller nor any limit among minds. in infinitely small particles. nothing more rational. not of mind. To add that the infinitely small and limited particles which constitute human souls are at the same time immortal is to carry the contradiction to a climax. retain as it were a vague remembrance of their primitive divinity. these divine particles. ages. human souls. races. This is an excessively inconvenient and unhappy situation. they seek their whole. absolutely immaterial mind. and the greatness or smallness of mind depends absolutely on the greater or less material perfection of the human organism. According to the materialists. that is another matter. indeed. mind existing independent of matter. Let us pass on. here another contradiction confronts us. and are irresistibly drawn towards their whole. To be limited.God. for the divine particles are so little acquainted with each other at the outset of their human existence that they begin by devouring each other.
in looking for itself. It is quite likely that it would never have succeeded in getting out of the rag. in its veritable theological and metaphysical meaning. is so plunged and lost in 54 .stays in the purely immaterial regions. considered as a single eternal and constant act. divinity which was not allowed to fall into matter and which is kept in a state of pure spirit in the sublime heights of the absolute ideal. now in a stone.falls into matter. that. the terrible mystery of the Christian Trinity. and it is so demolished by this multitude of human prisons in which it finds itself strewn.for itself in men. and these relations.that of Divinity dividing itself into two halves. or in the celestial regions. will constitute the Holy Ghost. now in a rag. seeing from the height of his eternal splendour that the poor God the Son. both equally infinite. We shall see directly. it commits folly after folly. of which one . But let us lose no time in abandoning these heights to see what is going on upon earth.God the Father . flattened out and astounded by his fall. now in a piece of wood. Here is a new mystery . had not had pity on it. it searches for and adores itself. if the other. continuous relations established. Beginning with fetishism. from above to below and from below to above. Such. between these two Divinities separated from each other. God the Father. and the other .God the Son . is the great.
his prophets. Solon. Multiply milliards of milliards by milliards of milliards . God is everything. From this immense number of particles at once immortal. Moses. Constantine the Great. all the apostles. Saint Peter. as a Russian." the great benefactors and legislators of humanity: Zoroaster. Voltaire and Rousseau. Lycurgus. according to some. Robespierre and Danton. divine. all of whose names it is impossible to recapitulate. 55 . It will be said that he is not reduced to nothing. and above all Jesus Christ. compared with it.their product compared to the infinitely great. Gregory VII Dante. beg that Saint Nicholas may not be forgotten. in which God the Son has disseminated himself so thoroughly that he does not know himself. Then we have reached at last the manifestation of God upon earth. at last collected and concentrated in a single human person. and infinitely small. Pardon me! I admit that a particle of a definite. Socrates. Luther also. will be infinitely small. Saint John before all. a positive greatness. Confucius. Saint Paul. and the infinitely small is equal to zero. But immediately God appears. But a particle of the infinitely great. limited whole. since he is himself a particle of God. decides to come to his aid. but among whom I. God the Father chooses those most pleasing to him. Buddha. picks his inspired persons. is necessarily infinitely small. and.matter that even having reached human state he has not yet recovered himself. his "men of virtuous genius. then Charlemagne. man is reduced to nothing. is a quantity. Mahomet. however small it be. and many other great and holy historical personages. the complete realisation of God the Son. the divine Plato.
which would be of no consequence. dignity. You will not escape this conclusion. they establish slavery. With the name of God they imagine that they can establish fraternity among men. hatred. In history the name of God is the terrible club with which all divinely inspired men. See in how profound an error our dear and illustrious idealists find themselves. uninspired. they create pride. some are greater than others.that of man. but. reason. the more miserable becomes humanity. it is true. not only in fact . to elevate us. and. man is reduced to nothing. In talking to us of God they purpose. We had first the fall of God. caused solely by the apparition of God manifested on earth. the great "virtuous geniuses. on the contrary. emancipate us. war. humanity is divided into men highly inspired. that is the effect of all the divine inspirations and legislations. compared with each other. because inequality in fact is lost in the collectivity when it cannot 56 . they sow discord. they desire. For with God come the different degrees of divine inspiration. the universe. they crush and degrade us. contempt. less inspired. That is the history of all religions. on the contrary. ennoble us. All are equally insignificant before God. and the greater Divinity becomes. are nothing. and prosperity of man. God appears. and. Now we have a fall which interests us more .therefore man and all the real world with him." have beaten down the liberty.
the most compassionate hearts. but the whole life of real men. which steadily developing. is composed only of passing matters. who knows what will 57 . once passed. preoccupation with the idea. constant. they themselves are only passing beings. I say relatively. They are so jealous of the glory of their God and of the triumph of their idea that they have no heart left for the liberty or the dignity or even the sufferings of living men. Alone permanent or relatively eternal in men is humanity. all that happens in the world from the point of view of eternity or of the abstract idea. Considering all that is. or inspired religionists is the worst. but never to return in person. which alone is really eternal.our planet once decomposed. which immediately establishes a fixed.it cannot fail to perish sooner or later. The highly inspired must be listened to and obeyed by the less inspired. are replaced by others likewise passing.but by the divine right of inspiration. the sources of human love.cling to some legal fiction or institution . our planet once destroyed . and the less inspired by the uninspired. of men of flesh and bone. because. they treat passing matters with disdain. petrifying inequality. who. Of all despotisms that of the doctrinaires. Divine zeal. eternal. grows richer in passing from one generation to another. Thus we have the principle of authority well established. to serve undoubtedly as an element of some new formation in the system of the universe. since everything which has begun must necessarily end . and with it the two fundamental institutions of slavery: Church and State. of real men. finally dry up the tenderest souls.
palpitating. I have stated in the Appendix that human thought and. in definite places. But this very fact of progressive humanity is real and living only through its manifestations at definite times. individual side. so to speak. in consequence of this. for that very reason. The mission of science is. we may properly consider humanity. relatively to the short duration of human life. their laws . that which is permanent in their continual transformations . but also its vital impotence and even its mischievous action whenever. not life. not reality itself. through its official licensed representatives. That is its limit.but never their material. because it is founded on the very nature of thought. the moment of this dissolution being an enormous distance in the future. its only really insuperable limit. Upon this nature are based the indisputable rights and grand mission of science. with reality and life. and therefore fugitive and intangible. Science comprehends the thought of the reality.become of our whole human development? Nevertheless.in short. their relations. which is the only organ of science. science can grasp and name only the general significance of real facts. in some sort a negation of real life. it arrogantly claims the right to govern life. the thought of life. by observation of the general relations of passing and real facts. in really living men. and not through its general idea. to establish the general laws inherent in the 58 . The general idea is always an abstraction and. as eternal.
but it is not life itself. the pedantic disciple of the immortal Doctor Faust. so to speak. exploiting. ridiculous. joys. the unchangeable landmarks of humanity's progressive march by indicating the general conditions which it is necessary to rigorously observe and always fatal to ignore or forget.that is cerebral (using this word to remind us that science itself is but a material product of a material organ. cruel. or. disciples of Auguste Comte. We may say of men of science. It alone spontaneously creates real things and. insensible. aspirations. sufferings.development of the phenomena of the physical and social world. emerging from their abstract world. mingle with living creation in the real world. The government of science and of men of science. science is the compass of life. bloodless and lifeless. like the laws of which it is but the ideal reproduction. impersonal. It follows that the only mission of science is to enlighten life. it fixes. sensibility. and passions. abstract. as such. still-born. it establishes and recognises only the creations of life. Science creates nothing. disciples of the doctrinaire. ridiculously abstract. In a word. all that they propose or create is poor. cannot fail to be impotent. school of German Communism. reflected or mental . again. the brain). oppressive. maleficent. Science is unchangeable. not to govern it. what I have said of theologians and metaphysicians: they have neither sense nor 59 . inhuman. general. even be they positivists. but also wholly palpitating with reality and individuality. needs. like the homunculus created by Wagner. Life is wholly fugitive and temporary. beings. And every time that scientific men.
. they have to deal with and can take interest in nothing except generalities.] [Three pages of the manuscript are missing] .. for it is the natural consequence of their profession. once his triumphant unitary republic had been definitely established.. Louis Blanc express almost the same idea." 60 . that do the laws [. In so far as they are men of science. "would be that which would invariably call men of virtuous genius to the control of affairs.. they are not exclusively men of science. Footnotes  In London I once heard M. but are also more or less men of life." he answered "will be the foundation of schools for the people." said he to me."  One day I asked Mazzini what measures would be taken for the emancipation of the people.heart for individual and living beings. "The best form of government. We cannot even blame them for this. "The first measure.
at least. It is not without reason. satisfying this personal passion. are very rare exceptions. but because of several 61 . and renunciation belie their teachings by their example. abstinence. or who. Men like Mazzini. holy men. unless he preaches by example? Is not the number of men who find supreme enjoyment in sacrifice and devotion exceedingly limited? Those who sacrifice themselves in the service of a great idea obey a lofty passion. for the simple reason that doctrine kills the life. and. of action. overflowing with love. In Christianity also there have been great men. they generally think of something else than building their action into doctrine. But the immense majority of Catholic and Protestant priests who." But where will you find a sufficient number of professors to teach these things. and whose hearts."And what will the people be taught in these schools?" "The duties of man .sacrifice and devotion. have preached and still preach the doctrines of chastity. were full of contempt for the pleasures and goods of this world. have passionately tried to practice all that they preached. the living spontaneity. outside of which life itself loses all value in their eyes. in whom doctrine and action form an admirable unity. by trade. which no one has the right or power to teach. who have really practised. while those who teach doctrine usually forget to translate it into action.
that between the doctrine of abstinence and renunciation and the positive tendencies and needs of human nature . It is. in some individual cases. in which these individuals are placed. as greedy. may be forgotten and neglected for some time by a large mass of men at once. show that the fault is not to be attributed to them as individuals. the priests. as ambitious as a priest. under the disastrous action of which inevitably fall all Christian priests and especially those of the Roman Catholic Church. have practised quite the contrary of what they have preached. which at certain moments of collective exaltation. they are always replaced at last by unwholesome and monstrous satisfaction. consecrated by the Church. suppressed. the universality of this fact. always very rare. may indeed be continually held back. and even entirely annihilated by the constant influence of some potent intellectual and moral passion. In the first place. and grasping as a priest. selfish. The position of the Christian priest involves a double contradiction. when they are not satisfied in a regular and normal way. This very majority.centuries' experience.tendencies and needs which. impossible and contradictory in itself. then. in the immense majority of cases. but to the social position. as gluttonous as a priest. established that the professors of the Christian virtues. that among the people of all countries these phrases have become by-words: As licentious as a priest. It cannot 62 . This is a natural and consequently fatal and irresistible law. but which are so fundamentally inherent in our nature that sooner or later they always resume their rights: so that.
absolute and infallible master of the world.apply to the professors. be the same with the professors of the modern School divinely inspired and licensed by the State. But there is another contradiction common to the priests of both sects. while calling himself the lowest servant of the servants of God .proclaims himself at the same time vicar of God. This contradiction grows out of the very title and position of the master. It will. unless they are also obliged to preach Christian abstinence and renunciation. some without knowing it. who. They will necessarily become.in token whereof. 63 . that is to the priests of the modern Church. and exploits is a wholly logical and quite natural personage. others with full knowledge of the cause. partly to satisfy their own personal passions and partly to serve the omnipotence of the Church? Like conditions. following the example of Christ. so well personified by the Pope. teachers of the doctrine of popular sacrifice to the power of the State and to the profit of the privileged classes. like causes. and kept them in the condition of a flock. But a master who sacrifices himself to those who are subordinated to him by his divine or human privilege is a contradictory and quite impossible being. have always sacrificed them. A master who commands. Do I need to recall that the priests of all churches. oppresses. then. he even washes once a year the feet of twelve Roman beggars . far from sacrificing themselves to the flocks confided to their care. This is the very constitution of hypocrisy. always produce like effects. exploited them.
this principle must diminish as fast as education and instruction advance. on the development of personal dignity and independence. will exist only for children and not for adults: and. it will be necessary to eliminate. on the worship of truth and justice at any cost. the final object of education necessarily being the formation of free men full of respect and love for the liberty of others. All rational education is at bottom nothing but this progressive immolation of authority for the benefit of liberty. But as the development of everything. But. The principle of authority. implies the gradual negation of the point of departure. in a normal society founded on equality and on respect for human liberty. schools. in order that they may become schools of emancipation and not of enslavement. whose intelligence has not yet openly developed itself. into so many schools of human emancipation. giving place to increasing liberty. in the education of children. which must replace always and everywhere the worship of divinity. 64 . and above all on respect for humanity. eliminate from society all instruction and abolish all schools? Far from it! Instruction must be spread among the masses without stint. and consequently of education. let us understand each other. all those temples dedicated to the glory of God and to the slavery of men. when applied to children of a tender age. necessary. The whole education of children and their instruction must be founded on the scientific development of reason. first of all. the eternal and absolute enslaver. in the first place. properly speaking. not on that of piety and obedience. it is legitimate. constitutes the natural point of departure. this fiction of God. then. transforming all the churches. not on that of faith.Must we.
at once natural and rational.Therefore the first day of the pupils' life. then. applied to men who have surpassed or attained their majority. The real school for the people and for all grown men is life. This. will be a mutual instruction. will be that of the collective and public spirit of a society founded on 65 . if they need it. From these schools will be absolutely eliminated the smallest applications or manifestations of the principle of authority. The only grand and omnipotent authority. paternal governments have left the masses to wallow in an ignorance so profound that it will be necessary to establish schools not only for the people's children. the only one which we may respect. but its last day should be that of the greatest liberty and the absolute abolition of every vestige of the animal or divine principle of authority. if the school takes infants scarcely able as yet to stammer a few words. and in which. rich in their own experience. a flagrant denial of humanity. a source of slavery and intellectual and moral depravity. they will teach in their turn many things to the professors who shall bring them knowledge which they lack. Unfortunately. where the people will come freely to get. but for the people themselves. They will be schools no longer. an act of intellectual fraternity between the educated youth and the people. free instruction. should be that of the greatest authority and an almost entire absence of liberty. becomes a monstrosity. they will be popular academies. in which neither pupils nor masters will be known. The principle of authority.
but will take care not to be rude with it unless they feel the support of a minority larger or smaller. and never will a selfish. far from enslaving them. if this social power exists. theological metaphysical. to humanise men? 66 . as each of us can verify daily. this is an authority which is not at all divine. Yes.equality and solidarity and the mutual human respect of all its members. but before which we shall bow willingly. certain that. No man. and your executioners. wholly human. and judicial authorities. why has it not sufficed hitherto to moralise. your jailers. depraved. A man must be urged on by an immense and very sincere conviction in order to find courage to speak and act against the opinion of all. no one can live without feeling himself sustained by the approval and esteem of at least some portion of society. political. and cowardly man have such courage.which binds all men together. Nothing proves more clearly than this fact the natural and inevitable solidarity . established by the Church and by the State. both on himself and on all the men whom he knows But. more powerful than your criminal codes. it will emancipate men. The power of collective sentiment or public spirit is even now a very serious matter. however powerful he believes himself. The men most ready to commit crimes rarely dare to defy it. They will seek to deceive it. to openly affront it. will ever have the strength to bear the unanimous contempt of society.this law of sociability . be sure of it than all your divine. It will be a thousand times more powerful.
on privilege. on the exploitation. and cause the material and social interests of each to conform to the human duties of each. And to this end there is but one means: Destroy all the institutions of Inequality. not on equality. Make all needs really solidary. Its authority is consequently a divine. its influence is mischievous and baleful. the solidary humanity of all. the most important question of Socialism. as we know. anti-human authority. Bakunin. on authority. not on justice and truth. It does not repress vices and crimes. I shall return to this. always in contradiction of the humanitarian theories which it professes. not on liberty. it has not been humanised because the social life of which it is ever the faithful expression is based. on the worship of divinity not on respect for humanity. it creates them.Simply because hitherto this power has not been humanised itself. God and the State. not on the brotherhood of men. Consequently its real action. and on this basis will arise the liberty the morality. has constantly exercised a disastrous and depraving influence. 1871 III 67 . on iniquity and falsehood. Do you wish to render its authority and influence beneficent and human? Achieve the social revolution. establish the economic and social equality of all.
and that what must be absolutely prevented. In this respect it is infinitely inferior to art. If they cannot perform experiments upon the bodies of individuals. may submit living men to scientific experiments. Scientific abstractions is their God. form a separate caste. in many respects analogous to the priesthood. monopolising science and remaining thus outside of social life. if not interfered with. if they are not living in the sense of real life none the less excite in our imagination the memory and sentiment of life. as a body. In their existing organisation. Though we may be well nigh certain that a savant. Science cannot go outside of the sphere of abstractions. undoubtedly less cruel but none the less disagreeable to their victims. we must not rely too much on this. living and real individuals are their victims. it remains always to be feared that the savants. by means of 68 . which. they will ask nothing better than to perform them on the social body. and they are the consecrated and licensed sacrificers. but which incarnates them by an artifice of its own in forms which. would not dare to treat a man today as he treats a rabbit. art in a certain sense individualizes the types and situations which it conceives. the savants.Nevertheless. in its turn. is peculiarly concerned also with general types and general situations.
Science is as incapable of grasping the individuality of a man as that of a rabbit. the individuals appear freer and more complete. being equally indifferent to both. political or judicial doctrinairisme. concrete. when it is not deaf to the instincts and spontaneous aspirations of life . it recalls to our minds the living. in his social and private existence. or even by a narrow scientific pride. but real. is as it were the return of abstraction to life. It knows. is the perpetual immolation of life. including the human species. It knows that man. on the contrary. the last and most perfect animal of earth. finally. temporary. and that the great.the individualities without flesh and bone. born and dying to make room for new individuals equally fugitive. personify. Not that it is ignorant of the principle of individuality: it conceives it perfectly as a principle. the real object of history. because of his power to conceive. when it is not vitiated by theological or metaphysical. fugitive. then. Art. It knows that in rising from the animal species to the superior species the principle of individuality becomes more pronounced. presents the most complete and most remarkable individuality. It knows very well that all the animal species. but not as a fact. as it were. and consequently permanent and immortal. science. real individualities which appear and disappear under our eyes. have no real existence outside of an indefinite number of individuals. the universal law. its only legitimate object is the 69 .it knows (and this is its last word) that respect for man is the supreme law of Humanity. on the altar of eternal abstractions. which it has the power to create.
it can well enough conceive the principle of real and living individuality. Abstraction being its very nature. for its mission lies not there.humanization and emancipation. if it wished to concern itself with them otherwise than as examples in support of its eternal theories. have any existence. science has no heart: it considers them at most as material for intellectual and social development. history is made. For. but not with Peter or James. I repeat. are only abstractions. we must clearly recognize that collective liberty and prosperity exist only so far as they represent the sum of individual liberties and prosperities. but it does not and cannot go beyond them. it 70 . For these beings made. It cannot grasp the concrete. it would annihilate itself. cannot. not with such or such a one. not by abstract individuals. not in idea only. do not. Now. it concerns itself with individuals in general. but by acting. the real liberty. but in reality of flesh and blood. living and passing individuals. so far as it is concerned. Abstractions advance only when borne forward by real men. who. a fiction always founded on the systematic sacrifice of the people. What does it care for the particular conditions and chance fate of Peter or James? It would make itself ridiculous. but it can have no dealings with real and living individuals. if we would not fall back into the liberticidal fiction of the public welfare represented by the State. Science knows all these things. Its individuals. it would abdicate. the prosperity and happiness of each individual living in society. And it would be ridiculous to wish it to do so.
men not at all abstract. But it would be equally ridiculous. What I preach then is. and lawyers. and it would be really unjust to expect more of it.but to remand it to its place so that it can never 71 . but on the contrary in very active life and having very substantial interests. just as they have been fleeced hitherto by priests. of judicial Right. it would continue to ignore them. Its mission is to busy itself with the situation and the general conditions of the existence and development. such a people. or of such a race. to govern Peter and James. Since its own nature forces it to ignore the existence of Peter and James. their decline.that would be high treason to humanity . and the best general methods of securing. in the name of God. or rather against the government of science. not to destroy science . politicians of all shades. but its licensed representatives. to a certain extent. of the State. it must never be permitted. yielding to the pernicious influence which privilege inevitably exercises upon men. either of the human species in general.can move only in abstractions. it would be disastrous to entrust it with a mission which it is incapable of fulfilling. such a class or category of individuals. For it were capable of treating them almost as it treats rabbits. nor must anybody be permitted in its name. the revolt of life against science. would finally fleece other men in the name of science. the general causes of their prosperity. their progress in all ways. it will do its whole duty. Provided it accomplishes this task broadly and rationally. Or rather.
we must submit to it so far as the past is concerned. and jurists. political liberty. historical rights. We readily understand that this is very gratifying. We cannot undo it. constituted outside of life. we have to recognize that no minority would have been powerful enough to impose all these horrible sacrifices upon the masses if there had not been in the masses themselves a dizzy spontaneous movement which pushed them on to continual self-sacrifice. politicians. We must believe that that was the only possible way. Such has been up to today the natural.leave it again. Until now all human history has been only a perpetual and bloody immolation of millions of poor human beings in honor of some pitiless abstraction . because. should give its consent. But that positive science itself should have shown the same tendencies is a fact which we must deplore while we establish it. national honor. Nor is it more surprising that metaphysics too. Priests of these abstractions. to educate the human race. they live only by the continual immolation of the people. and inevitable movement of human societies. now to one. public welfare. power of State. it is represented by a privileged body. judicial rights. now to another of these devouring abstractions the vampires of history ever nourished upon human blood. to the theologians. as we submit to all natural fatalities.God. For we must not deceive ourselves: even in attributing the larger part to the Machiavellian wiles of the governing classes. That it has done so is due to two reasons: in the first place. country. Its only mission is to justify and rationalize as far as possible the iniquitous and absurd. and 72 . spontaneous.
But there is one aspect in which it resembles all these doctrines: its only possible object being abstractions. Positive science. outside of whom the truest abstractions have no existence. their general relations. politics. which it can and finally will be forced to pass upon itself. and the general laws of their development. This separates it profoundly from all preceding doctrines. which by the way. on earth. The immense advantage of positive science over theology. in place of the false and fatal abstractions set up by these doctrines. and who die. who live. and judicial right consists in this . it is forced by its very nature to ignore real men. it would understand. By a judicious criticism. on the contrary. that it is only a means for the realization of a much higher object that of the complete humanization of the real situation of all the real individuals who are born. must definitely and absolutely renounce all claim 73 .that.in the second place. because thus far it has posited itself as an absolute and final object of all human development. The latter have taken advantage of the ignorance of the masses to sacrifice them with delight to their abstractions. recognizing its absolute inability to conceive real individuals and interest itself in their lot. are always very lucrative to those who represent them in flesh and bone. metaphysics. and will assure it for ever a great position in society: it will constitute in a certain sense society's collective consciousness. To remedy this radical defect positive science will have to proceed by a different method from that followed by the doctrines of the past. it posits true abstractions which express the general nature and logic of things.
But suppose it were definitely developed. not even the slightest in our annals.of the societies which have a history.triumphant by its general results. economical. by reflection. Individuals cannot be grasped by thought. however detailed it might be. that is all. would never show anything beyond general and consequently abstract estimates. political and social. Shall we blame the science of history. religious. have never benefited by any of these results . They have lived and been sacrificed. dismal by the immense hecatomb of human victims "crushed under its car" . But this universal picture of human civilization. it would only sacrifice continually the living men whom it ignores to the abstractions which constitute the sole object of its legitimate preoccupations. bear in mind.material and ideal.those milliards of obscure individuals without whom none of the great abstract results of history would have been obtained . for if it should meddle therein.to the government of societies. The true science of history.will find no place. scarcely do we begin today to catch a glimpse of its extremely complicated conditions. for instance. or even by human 74 . The milliards of individuals who have furnished the living and suffering materials of this history at once triumphant and dismal . aesthetic. philosophical. crushed for the good of abstract humanity. does not yet exist. what could it give us? It would exhibit a faithful and rational picture of the natural development of the general conditions . and scientific . That would be unjust and ridiculous.and who.
All that. beyond which the action of social science can be only impotent and fatal. Once more. they cannot be grasped in the present day any more than in the past. alas!) of living individuals to abstract generalities . Only Life. which is capable of expressing abstractions only. It is time to have done with all popes and priests. the science of the future. science is indispensable to the rational organization of society. Beyond those limits being the doctrinaire and governmental pretentious of its licensed representatives. its priests.among these causes it will not forget the immolation and subordination (still too frequent. we want them no longer. can create. on the other. Therefore social science itself. and given full liberty of action. it must not interfere with the real or practical organization of 75 . How solve this antinomy? On the one hand.speech.at the same time showing us the general conditions necessary to the real emancipation of the individuals living in society. will necessarily continue to ignore them. the sole mission of science is to light the road. those are its limits. being incapable of interesting itself in that which is real and living. we have a right to demand of it is that it shall point us with faithful and sure hand to the general causes of individual suffering . That is its mission. delivered from all its governmental and doctrinaire barriers. even if they call themselves Social Democrats.
without losing anything of its universal character. This contradiction can be solved only in one way: by the liquidation of science as a moral being existing outside the life of all. having at last succeeded in swallowing his good God. of which it can never divest itself without ceasing to be science. must really become the property of everybody. Science. Thereby. That is the reason why it is necessary to dissolve the 76 . being called upon to henceforth represent society's collective consciousness. and while continuing to concern itself exclusively with general causes. The world of scientific abstractions is not revealed.things all theologically or metaphysically revealed. That will be a movement analogous to that which said to the Protestants at the beginning of the Reformation that there was no further need of priests for man. nor good God.society. nor of political liberty. the conditions and fixed relations of individuals and things. it is inherent in the real world. it must spread among the masses. this ideal world threatens to take the place of a good God to the real world. it will become one in fact with the immediate and real life of all individuals. specially represented by the savants as a body. every man. who would henceforth be his own priest. As long as it forms a separate region. and all alike indigestible. nor of judicial right . thanks to the invisible intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ alone. reserving for its licensed representatives the office of priests. and represented by a body of breveted savants. But here the question is not of Jesus Christ. of which it is only the general or abstract expression and representation.
An aristocracy of learning! from the practical point of view the most implacable.special social organization of the savants by general instruction. from this day forth. The savants always presumptuous. and such a government would necessarily be aristocratic because the existing scientific institutions are essentially aristocratic. equal for all in all things. The first consequence of the government of these men would be to render science inaccessible to the people. It would be better for them to dispense with science than allow themselves to be governed by savants.  But until the masses shall have reached this degree of instruction. This rÈgime would be capable of paralyzing the life and movement of society. the spontaneous action of the people themselves alone can create liberty. may take into their own hands the direction of their destinies. ceasing to be flocks led and shorn by privileged priests.such would be the power established in the name of science. in order that the masses. and from the social point of view the most haughty and insulting . illuminate the spontaneous march of the people towards their emancipation. But better an absence of light than a 77 . will it be necessary to leave them to the government of scientific men? Certainly not. Undoubtedly it would be a very fortunate thing if science could. Life. and the sources of life would dry up under the breath of their abstractions. ever self-sufficient and ever impotent. Once more. would desire to meddle with everything. not science. creates life.
Not in vain have they traversed a long historic career. and while it has a breath left it will try to subject men to its God. injustice. The idealistic abstraction. is a rational abstraction. necessary to life. Last of all. the conscience.those will be. but it will never yield. If the people should beware of the government of the savants. it must. The pride of the idealists. is a corrosive poison. or. kindled only to mislead those who follow it. is invincible and inexorable: it may. there will be no occasion for the government of the savants. of which it is the theoretical representation. not being personal but divine. die. it must be. a portion of the youth . which in certain respects is worth as much as theoretical science. It may. would like to see the people 78 . absorbed and digested by life. just as the lieutenants of Prussia. fraternal instructors of the people. if one prefers. falsifies and kills it. the people will not lack light. God. and cowardice of the bourgeoisie to find courage to turn their backs upon it. as I have already said. true in its essence. all the more should they provide against that of the inspired idealists. the more dangerous they become. which destroys and decomposes life. After all. thanks to them.those of the bourgeois students who feel hatred enough for the falsehood. and paid for their errors by centuries of misery. The more sincere these believers and poets of heaven. these practical idealists of Germany. hypocrisy. The scientific abstraction. The practical summary of their painful experiences constitutes a sort of traditional science. and passion enough to unreservedly embrace the just and human cause of the proletariat . I have said.false and feeble light.
one would have to be blind to avoid seeing it at the present hour.crushed under the spurred boot of their emperor. by the experience of all. and the result. It is at the same time the triumph of the ugliest and most brutal materialism. which no fact has ever contradicted and which any man can verify at any moment of his life. the end but little different. We know this certainly. and we see that. Man. There is no need to demonstrate this in the case of Germany. in a word. animal intelligence develops in proportion as the organization of a species approaches that of man. we find a certain degree of intelligence. The mind. ideal world. is slavery. But I think it is still necessary to demonstrate it in the case of divine idealism. of remembering them when they have passed and reproducing them by the imagination. like all the rest of nature. The faith is the same. is a property of the animal body and especially of the quite material organism of the brain. without excepting the wholly inferior species. the facility of thinking. In all animals. and finally of forming ideas by grouping and combining concepts according to different methods . of abstracting determinations common to them and thus creating general concepts. as that of faith. is an entirely material being. in the series of species. of comparing and distinguishing them.intelligence. of receiving and reflecting upon different external and internal sensations. 79 . sole creator of our whole.
however foolish it may be. therefore. moreover. that all intelligence is always attached to some animal body. as a class. for a general belief.but that in man alone it attains to that power of abstraction which properly constitutes thought. But if no person has seen it. and as such it is entirely worthy of our closest attention. how is it that men have come to believe in its existence? The fact of this belief is certain and if not universal. and that the intensity. shows us.  which is the sole origin. at least very general. Universal experience. of this animal function depends on the relative perfection of the organism. The latter of these results of universal experience is not applicable only to the different animal species. exercises too potent a sway over the destiny of men to warrant us in ignoring it or putting it aside. as a nation. the source of all our knowledge. detached from all material form existing separately from any animal body whatsoever. the power. is rational enough. it is certain that no man has ever seen or can see pure mind. The example 80 . whose intellectual and moral power depends so clearly upon the greater or less perfection of their organism as a race. and as individuals.  On the other hand. as all the idealists pretend. The explanation of this belief. we establish it likewise in men. that it is not necessary to insist upon this point.
and ideas necessarily very imperfect at first and conforming but slightly to the reality of the things and facts which they endeavour to express Not having yet the consciousness of his own intelligent action. they worshipped them. ignoring their wholly subjective . they attributed omnipotence to them. not suspecting that they themselves were the real creators. ideal. During this working of the mind unconscious of itself. existing by themselves and in themselves. concepts. were never anything more than a fantastic. their slaves. created their gods. considering them as real beings infinitely superior to themselves. these concepts. As fast as human ideas develop. and even by many men long past the age of majority. human-origin. these ideas. pushed on by that internal goad called life and its manifold necessities. become idealised also. beings. as real beings.afforded us by children and young people. It was thus that primitive peoples. before becoming clearly conscious of it. not knowing yet that he himself has produced and continues to produce these imaginations. and recognised themselves as their creatures. he must naturally consider them as objective. who. man. creates a quantity of imaginations. as I have already stated. emerging slowly from their animal innocence. At first gross fetishes.that is. obsessed by the external world. the gods. Having created them. during this action of innocent or believing intelligence. shows us that man may use his mental faculties for a long time before accounting to himself for the way in which he uses them. wholly independent of him. they gradually become 81 . poetical reverberation of an inverted image.
once established. absolute Spirit. the real things which contradict this idea seem to him ridiculous and odious follies. and because its origin is lost in the most remote antiquity. eternal. in the course of a long historic evolution. so natural from the physiological point of view and consequently necessary in the history of humanity. In every development. Take a madman.pure spirits. Well religion is a collective insanity. pure. whatever the object of his madness . and at last. and that. on the contrary. he 82 . Every man is enveloped in it from his birth. just or false. real or imaginary collective or individual. it is always the first step. I know not how many centuries were needed to develop this belief and make it a governing influence upon the mental customs of men. That step once taken. But. the collective soul and thought. the first act that is the most difficult. it has become. are confounded in a single Divine Being. the more powerful because it is traditional folly. the rest follows naturally as a necessary consequence. outside the world. it is incarnate in society. as each insane notion necessarily becomes when it takes possession of man's brain. creator and master of the worlds. it became omnipotent. The difficult step in the historical development of this terrible religious insanity which continues to obsess and crush us was to posit a divine world as such. existing outside of the visible world. so to speak. As collective insanity it has penetrated to the very depths of the public and private existence of the peoples. This first act of madness.you will find that obscure and fixed idea which obsesses him seems to him the most natural thing in the world. was not accomplished at a single stroke.
She pagan gods . all that he sees.were first of all exclusively national gods. Very numerous.the German Communists. from the religious materialism of the pagans to the spiritualistic faith of the Christians. the development of the various religious systems has followed its natural and logical course.and this was their principal characteristic . Thus has the collective and historical insanity which calls itself religion been developed since fetishism. and then never completely succeeds. materialists .sucks it in with his mother's milk. they necessarily retained a more or less material 83 . undoubtedly the most difficult next to the establishment of a separate divine world. conforming. absorbs it with all that he touches. The second step in the development of religious beliefs. moreover. was precisely this transition from polytheism to monotheism. They have found no way to shake off the religion of the State. he has to make unheard-of efforts to deliver himself from it. The supernatural world. the divine world. We have one proof of this in our modern idealists. in the world of religious fancy. once well established in the imagination of the peoples. and another in our doctrinaire. so poisoned and penetrated by it in all his being that later. in all things to the contemporary development of economical and political relations of which it has been in all ages. He is so exclusive]y fed upon it. the faithful reproduction and divine consecration. however powerful his natural mind. passing through all the stages from polytheism to Christian monotheism.
like the Russian God worshipped by the German generals. so to speak. Jehovah himself. The Jewish God did not deny the existence of these rivals. rather. and thou shalt have no other gods before me. always gross and cruel. His first commandment was this: "I am the Lord thy God. It does not even appear that faith in his existence implied a negation of the existence of earlier gods. he was only a national God. diversity being one of the principal attributes of the real world. who. constituting. We have seen how much this transition cost the Jewish people. The pagan gods were not yet strictly the negation of real things. the people always relapsed into their primitive idolatry.character. their sole God. more human. its entire history. they were so numerous because they were material. then. subjects of the Czar and 84 . In vain did Moses and the prophets preach the one god. used material arguments. the God of Moses and the prophets. very material and very rough. more material. to reward and punish his faithful followers. and more palpable. they were only a fantastic exaggeration of them. Moreover. often stupid." Jehovah. was only a first draft. was still an extremely national God. because before all Jehovah was a very Jealous God. into the ancient and comparatively much more natural and convenient faith in many good gods. or. he simply did not want his people to worship them side by side with him. his chosen people. of the supreme deity of modern idealism.
he must be the God of entire Humanity. Greece. (2) a development. will no doubt soon proclaim. This was the first draft of humanity. Two things have proved necessary to the realisation of the worship of the supreme being: (1) a realisation. The gods of all the conquered nations. by the conquest of most of the countries known to the ancients and by the destruction of their national institutions. the spiritualisation of Jehovah. As for the second condition. whom the pietists and the German generals. that was realised by the Greeks long before the conquest of their country by the Romans. mutually cancelled each other. such as it is. of metaphysical ideas in order to spiritualise the gross Jehovah of the Jews. like the German God. very gross and quite negative. at Berlin. in the cradle of her history. already far advanced. gathered in the Pantheon. The supreme being cannot be a national God.pure spirit. had already found from the Orient a divine world which had been definitely 85 . They were the creators of metaphysics. subjects of William I. of Humanity by the negation of nationalities and national forms of worship. though in a very negative way no doubt. The first condition was fulfilled by the Romans. he must be the negation of all matter . Nor can the supreme being be a material being.patriots of the empire of all the Russias.
omnipotent. prior to her political history.that is. one. much more than the Jews.that is. that they did not wait in vain to reconcile dawning reason with the absurdities of such a god.and no nation has had greater than Greece found the divine world established. Besides. and when she actually began her history. is the tradition of the religious mania even on the greatest minds. the greatest 86 . then. The Jews only added to it the brutal personality of their Jehovah. As concerns Spiritualism. the most sympathetic and noble of all the religions which have existed.established in the traditional faith of her peoples. eternal. so far at least as a religion . this world had been left and handed over to her by the Orient. and absolutely spiritualistic but impersonal. That a sublime genius like the divine Plato could have been absolutely convinced of the reality of the divine idea shows us how contagious. were the creators of the Christian god. as did the scholastics of the Middle Ages . In her instinctive period.was already much in their favour. she had developed and prodigiously humanised this divine world through her poets. the Greek metaphysicians. and naturally they took it as a point of departure. even in our day.can be noble and sympathetic. Her great thinkers . invisible. we should not be surprised at it. since. but also in themselves as a habit of feeling and thought. not only outside of themselves in the people. They left the gods out of their speculations and attached themselves directly to the divine idea. a lie . she already had a religion readymade. That they made no theology . how omnipotent.
by two great minds who had never heard of each other . the disciple and demolisher of Hegel. even that of the greatest genius. he left nothing lacking but the utterance of those grand words which were said after him. was not ripe for that.in spite even of Kant's criticism. Hegel . The collective mind. To-day it is no longer difficult to understand how the divine ideas were born. Man made the gods.Ludwig Feuerbach. which had demolished the objectivity or reality of the divine ideas . It is true that Hegel went about his work of restoration in so impolite a manner that he killed the good God for ever. These words were as follows: "Metaphysics are reduced to psychology. But in the time of Plato this knowledge was impossible. almost at the same time. and consequently the individual mind as well. To put an end to all religious insanities and the divine mirage. how they were created in succession by the abstractive faculty of man. and Auguste Comte. Scarcely had it said with Socrates: "Know 87 . in Germany. He took away from these ideas their divine halo. imperfect and too metaphysical though it be. the founder of positive philosophy.tried to replace these divine ideas upon their transcendental or celestial throne.philosophical genius which has existed since Aristotle and Plato. by showing to whoever will read him that they were never anything more than a creation of the human mind running through history in search of itself. in France." All the metaphysical systems have been nothing else than human psychology developing itself in history.
It is true that after Plato there was a sort of inverse movement in the development of the mind. Hence it was impossible for the human mind to suspect that it was itself the sole creator of the divine world. logic. Science tended more and more to separate itself from life. as a habit of thought. They were atheists. not in its ideal. two sects who contributed much to the degradation of human aristocracy. divine ideas were rejected in metaphysics themselves. After him the Greeks of Alexandria established the first school of the positive scientists. the laws of human thought. but they had no effect upon the masses. and it necessarily made it the object of its loftiest speculations. After Plato. did not deny the divine world.thyself!" This self-knowledge existed only in a state of intuition. But their atheism left no mark on their contemporaries. but concerned himself with it as little as possible. it found it as history. was formed at Alexandria. Aristotle. the true father of science and positive philosophy. but in its real aspect. in fact. like the analyst and experimenter that he was. It found the divine world before it. the basis of Spiritualism. infinitely more influential. as a sentiment. and at the same time the physical world. this was done by the Epicureans and Sceptics. Another school. He was the first to study. These. confounding in an impure mixture the 88 . it amounted to nothing. and thus were developed and perfected the divine ideas. as tradition. illusory essence. This was the school of neo-Platonists. Thus was born metaphysics.
a model eternally creative and always reproduced by the visible world. material and social. Before the altar of a unique and supreme God was raised on the ruins of the numerous altars of the pagan gods. were the three historical elements which made up the spiritualistic religion of the Christians. But the divinity conceived and created by Greek philosophy was an impersonal divinity. the autonomy of the various nations composing the pagan or ancient world had to be destroyed first. could not spring into existence suddenly. A God thus raised above the national differences. so difficult a matter. and later the elaborators. were the true originators. it went through a long course of preparation and development at the hands of Greek metaphysics. and the metaphysical ideal speculation of the Greeks. No logical and serious metaphysics being able to 89 . laid the first foundations. Consequently. must necessarily be an immaterial and abstract being. This was very brutally done by the Romans who. of the Christian dogmas.monstrous imaginations of the Orient with the ideas of Plato. as I have demonstrated in the Appendix. and in a certain sense the direct negation of them. which were the first to establish in a philosophical manner the notion of the divine idea. But faith in the existence of such a being. of all countries. Thus the personal and gross egoism of Jehovah. the not less brutal and gross Roman conquest. materialised by contact with the Orient. by conquering the greatest part of the globe known to the ancients. quite gross and negative ones no doubt. of humanity.
and from this marriage was born the spiritualistic . In spite of his national. or. and corrupted her still more by his own. it became necessary. any more than historical elements suffice to create history. and ferocious exclusivism. selfish. the most international people of the world. to the idea of a personal God. long before the birth of Christ. He married her. He was found in the very brutal. to whom they remained all the more faithful the more he abandoned them. carrying everywhere the worship of their Jehovah. the national God of the Jews. But the Jews. The neoplatonists of Alexandria are known to have been the principal creators of the Christian theology. Some of them carried away as captives.but not spirited . By historical elements I mean the general conditions of any real development whatsoever . they had spread through all countries. Nevertheless theology alone does not make a religion. jealous.for example in this case the 90 .rise. In Alexandria this terrible god of the Jews made the personal acquaintance of the metaphysical divinity of Plato. to imagine a God who was one and very personal at once. but many more even urged on by that mercantile passion which constitutes one of the principal traits of their character. to descend. and cruel person of Jehovah. already much corrupted by Oriental contact. therefore.God of the Christians. rather. in spite of that exclusive national spirit which distinguishes them even to-day. he could not long resist the graces of this ideal and impersonal divinity of the Greeks. had become in fact.
Their most extensive 91 . and so fabulous that we can scarcely seize upon a few real and vital traits. a living. He was hanged. He promised eternal life to all who are oppressed. thanks to the destruction of the national barriers by the Roman conquest. We know almost nothing of this great and saintly personage. and naturally also the most ignorant classes of the ancient world. and propagated the Gospel in all the countries known to the ancients. and death of Jesus Christ. to all who suffer here below. and that by these last he was much loved. and the number is immense. the two most oppressed. and of the women. the friend and consoler of the wretched. as a matter of course. His disciples and the disciples of his disciples succeeded in spreading. by the representatives of the official morality and public order of that period. without which they might have remained many centuries longer in the state of unproductive elements. This fact was not lacking in Christianity: it was the propagandism. to cause them to run through a series of new historical transformations. most suffering. of the slaves. To impregnate the historical elements. For even such few proselytes as they made in the privileged and learned world they were indebted in great part to the influence of women. But it is certain that he was the preacher of the poor. martyrdom. all that the gospels tell us being contradictory. spontaneous fact was needed. Everywhere they were received with open arms by the slaves and the women. of the ignorant.conquest of the world by the Romans and the meeting of the God of the Jews with the ideal of divinity of the Greeks.
and of the triumph of that divine folie. ever to have been accepted by enlightened men According with what joy the apostle Paul speaks of the scandale de la foi. denied even the simplest rights of humanity. the ignorant. but all the more passionately accepted by the simple. the most audacious and monstrous of all religious absurdities.propagandism was directed almost exclusively among the people. unfortunate and degraded by slavery. of all 92 . The doctrine taught by the apostles of Christ. lay in the fact that it appealed to that suffering and immense public to which the ancient world. a strict and cruel intellectual and political aristocracy. and the weak-minded! Indeed there must have been a very deep-seated dissatisfaction with life. its incontestable merit. a very intense thirst of heart. The great honour of Christianity. and religious institutions of antiquity: it was the absolute overturn of common sense. was too revolting. This was not only the negation of all the political. the first intellectual revolt of the proletariat. This was the first awakening. wholly consoling as it may have seemed to the unfortunate. social. to secure the acceptance of the Christian absurdity. and the whole secret of its unprecedented and yet thoroughly legitimate triumph. Otherwise it never could have spread. and an almost absolute poverty of thought. too absurd from the standpoint of human reason. rejected by the powerful and wise of the century.
That abstraction. the real world. whereas the product of man's abstractive faculty. corrupted. and . were considered thereafter as nothing.human reason. rests in contemplation of his emptiness and absolute immobility.for a few . The real All is declared nothing and the absolute nothing the All. even beyond the most general determinations of the living being. all-powerful being. the triumph of credulous stupidity over the mind for the masses. disillusioned. the last and supreme abstraction in which this faculty. far beyond existing things. it was that necessity of shaking off thought and becoming brutally stupid so frequently felt by surfeited minds: Footnotes 93 . God. is proclaimed the only real. that caput mortuum.the triumphant irony of a mind wearied. having nothing left to advance beyond. The shadow becomes the substance and the substance vanishes like a shadow. eternal.  All this was audacity and absurdity unspeakable. The living being. the ideas of space and time. and disgusted in honest and serious search for truth. the true scandale de la foi. absolutely void of all contents the true nothing.
on which all science rests. how is this difference to be explained? Unfortunately there is a considerable number of men wholly stupid. This. Could they have received in the 94 . however. the second is only a supposition of facts which nobody has seen. and rendering great services to humanity. on which the idealists wish to support their beliefs: the first is a real authentication of facts. from devoting themselves exclusively to the cultivation of the sciences.  The idealists. ambition. and doctrinaire pedantry. will wed itself in a certain sense to the immediate and real life of each. It will gain in utility and grace what it loses in pride. must be clearly distinguished from universal faith. foolish even to idiocy.  Universal experience. Science. better organized for scientific speculation than the majority of their fellows. and for no other reward than the high delight which a noble mind always finds in the satisfaction of a noble passion. they will be ambitious for no other social influence than the natural influence exercised upon its surroundings by every superior intelligence. and which consequently are at variance with the experience of everybody. will not prevent men of genius. Unless we suppose that the various divine particles have been irregularly distributed. all those who believe in the immateriality and immortality of the human soul. Only. must be excessively embarrassed by the difference in intelligence existing between races. and individuals. peoples. in becoming the patrimony of everybody.
in matter. by the way inexplicable and logically impossible. Of all the gross and materialistic (using the word in the sense attached to it by the idealists) imaginations which were engendered by the primitive ignorance and stupidity of men. 95 . such another very gross organs. necessarily appearing indifferent. and nothing better proves the omnipotence exercised by ancient prejudices even over the best minds than the deplorable sight of men endowed with lofty intelligence still talking of it in our days. for in the presence of absolute immateriality of soul all bodily differences disappear. that of an immaterial soul imprisoned in a material body is certainly the grossest. human bodies. According to this. absolute immateriality from absolute materiality. the most stupid. imprisoned. but that the prisons in which they find themselves necessarily confined. is infinite. all that is corporeal. which may exist on the other side of the abyss. such a one might have very fine organs at his disposition. and neither can nor should exercise any influence over it.distribution a particle at once divine and stupid? To escape this embarrassment the idealists must necessarily suppose that all human souls are equal. material. But these are distinctions which idealism has not the power to use without falling into inconsistency and the grossest materialism. and much less expressed in any degree whatsoever by the absolutely material. In a word. are unequal. The abyss which separates soul from body. equally and absolutely gross. Consequently all differences. the absolutely immaterial cannot be constrained. should be to the soul null and void. some more capable than others of serving as an organ for the pure intellectuality of soul.
precisely and mainly. But it has not the added character of voluntary and deliberate negation which distinguishes Christianity. when those systems were conceived.why go so far? . 96 . IV Credo quod absurdum I believe in the absurd. I am well aware that in the theological and metaphysical systems of the Orient. I believe in it.believe still in Christianity. The world of human thought of will and of liberty. including Buddhism. because it is absurd. we find the principle of the annihilation of the real world in favour of the ideal and of absolute abstraction. in God. and . spiritualism. In the same way many distinguished and enlightened minds in our day believe in animal magnetism. in idealism. tipping tables. and especially in those of India. had not reached that stage of development which was afterwards seen in the Greek and Roman civilisation.
less haut gošt. eternal. As for theological dogmas. it did not trouble itself about them because it understood nothing about them The proletariat converted to Christianity constituted its growing material but not its intellectual strength. was more robust and simple. in the fourth century of the Christian era. which still slept and therefore could know nothing about logical contradictions and the evidence of the absurd. when the kingdom of God would come. not to its mind. even for 97 . the period of the first Council. the idea of a personal God. The Christian propagandism appealed to its heart. and must be resurrected with it. it is known that they were elaborated in a series of theological and literary works and in the Councils. as a logical consequence of this absolute absurdity. it then became natural and necessary to believe in the immateriality and immortality of the human soul. We see how difficult it was.The belief of the ancient proletariat. The Greek mind had fallen so low that. its slavery. It was interested solely in knowing when the hour of promised deliverance would strike. its sufferings. to its eternal aspirations. was unanimously accepted by the Church Fathers. there being in this body itself a portion which. not to its reason. while material is immortal like the soul. existing outside of the world. absolute mind. its necessities. As for the Christian dogmas. pure. creator and supreme master. like that of the modern. principally by the converted neo-Platonists of the Orient. lodged and imprisoned in a body only partially mortal.
much less moralistic. above all. they were nothing but barbarians . For ten centuries Christianity. as are the bourgeois of modern Germany. to conceive pure minds outside of any material form. was able to deprave. in spite of all their great qualities. and.that is. It alone though. they affected 98 . It had another piece of good luck in the invasion of the Barbarians. as indifferent to all questions of theology and metaphysics as the ancient slaves. it alone spoke and wrote. because outside of the Church there were neither thinkers nor educated persons. debase. it was not difficult to convert them theoretically to Christianity. a great number of whom. full of natural force. armed with the omnipotence of Church and State and opposed by no competition. belonged to their race. their practical repugnance once overcome. urged on by a great necessity of life and a great capacity for it. brigands who had stood every test. it alone taught. It should be added that. It was very fortunate for Christianity that it met a world of slaves. capable of science and not incapable of liberty. but they were much less systematic and pedantic than these last. less learned. But.the Church Fathers. capable of devastating and gobbling up anything.. Though heresies arose in its bosom. and falsify the mind of Europe It had no competitors. in general. So that. the Germans of today. it is the character of every metaphysical and theological argument to seek to explain one absurdity by another. and on the other hand much more independent and proud. The latter were worthy people. like their successors. moreover.
and the masses as well. No longer 99 . it again reappeared in broad day. Michelet. The belief in God. and passions of the Reformation. until at last. it noiselessly continued its invisible work. pure spirit and creator of the world. was at last about to deliver itself from all the divine obsessions. and the belief in the immateriality of the soul remained untouched. which produced heroes and martyrs like Vanini. it penetrated and became incarnate in all the institutions. Not at all. such as those of Mazzini. Although drowned in the noise. of the free mind in the fifteenth century. This double belief became the ideal basis of the whole Occidental and Oriental civilization of Europe. After that. tumult. is it surprising that this belief has lived until the present day. continuing to exercise its disastrous influence even upon select minds. The human mind.only the theological or practical developments of the fundamental dogma never that dogma itself. all the details of the public and private life of all classes. one might have supposed. in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Giordano Bruno. The divine falsehood upon which humanity had been feeding for eighteen centuries (speaking of Christianity only) was once more to show itself more powerful than human truth. bequeathing to the noblest minds of each generation its task of human emancipation by the destruction of the absurd. Quinet. then. and Galileo. and so many others? We have seen that the first attack upon it came from the renaissance. boldly waving the flag of atheism and materialism.
thus preparing the way for the thenceforth necessary triumph of the dictatorship of Bonaparte I.able to make use of the black tribe. Rousseau and Robespierre. less terrible nearer to the diminished 100 . his worthy and faithful disciple. of the Catholic or Protestant priests. J. of exaltation without other object than his own person. J. Rousseau invented the Supreme Being. it would be necessary to invent him. one the falsest mind. J. Having heard the saying of Voltaire that. of cold enthusiasm and hypocrisy at once sentimental and implacable. as Robespierre. of the ravens consecrated by the Church. The first is the perfect type of narrowness and suspicious meanness. After this great triumph. And It was in the name of the Supreme Being. Danton. He was the prophet of the doctrinaire State.J. he bred within himself the pitiless despotism of the statesman. the other the most doctrinally despotic will. in whose person he assassinated the Republic. and of the hypocritical virtue commanded by this Supreme Being. He may be considered as the real creator of modern reaction. that Robespierre guillotined first the HÈbertists and then the very genius of the Revolution. all confidence in whom had been lost. the idealistic reaction sought and found servants less fanatical. among whom the principal rÙles devolved upon two fatal men. the abstract and sterile God of the deists. To all appearance the most democratic writer of the eighteenth century. tried to become its high priest. if God did not exist. short-robed liars and sophists. it made use of lay priests. of the falsehood of modern idealism. of the last century .
The literature created by this school was the very reign of ghosts and phantoms. distinguished souls. It was the literature of the tender. the Werners. Chateaubriand.Victor Hugo himself. In France. it showed itself frankly reactionary. aspiring to heaven. and so many others besides. Amid the clouds in which it lived could be distinguished two real points . whose names do not even deserve to be recalled. the Tiecks. the Novalis. the reason for its existence must be 101 . as I have just said. but when perchance it referred to them. Lamartine. under the leadership of these masters.the rapid development of bourgeois materialism and the ungovernable outburst of individual vanities. delicate. took the side of the Church against the insolence of the freethinkers. of the kings against the peoples.stature of the actual bourgeoisie. and shall I say it? Why not? All must be said if it is truth . the dominant feature of the school of romanticism was a quasi-complete indifference to politics. To understand this romantic literature. the twilight alone permitted it to live. and of all the aristocrats against the vile rabble of the streets. the Schellings. the republican. the quasi-socialist of today! and after them the whole melancholy and sentimental company of poor and pallid minds who. the democrat. It could not stand the sunlight. established the modern romantic school in Germany. It had a horror and contempt for the politics and questions of the day. and living on earth as if in spite of themselves. No more could it stand the brutal contact of the masses. the Schlegels. For the rest.
in France. but on the major portion of the peasants of France.sought in the transformation which had been effected in the bosom of the bourgeois class since the revolution of 1793. they are immortal! Soon it split. at least in Italy. the religious reformers of the two following centuries. if not in Germany. made the revolution of 1789 and '93. the reestablishment of public order. and. It alone. in Switzerland. and the apostles of human emancipation. had no aspiration left but for peace. the bourgeoisie. and the foundation of a strong and regular government. satiated 102 . these also having become landed proprietors. of the past century. although always Voltairean. the fraternity of the peoples. including this time those of Germany. did not view with displeasure the Concordat with the Pope and the re-establishment of the official Church in France: "Religion is so necessary to the people!" Which means that. It therefore welcomed with joy the dictatorship of the first Bonaparte. in Holland. From its bosom sprang most of the freethinkers of the fifteenth century. in England. and supporting themselves no longer on the proletariat of the cities. who had faith in it. Those are its titles to glory. was the hero and representative of the revolutionary genius of history. A considerable portion of the purchasers of national property having become rich. naturally supported by the powerful arm of the people. From the Renaissance and the Reformation down to the Revolution. the rights of man and of the citizen. It proclaimed the downfall of royalty and of the Church.
themselves, this portion of the bourgeoisie then began to see that it was needful to the maintenance of their situation and the preservation of their newly-acquired estates to appease the unsatisfied hunger of the people by promises of heavenly manna. Then it was that Chateaubriand began to preach. 
Napoleon fell and the Restoration brought back into France the legitimate monarchy, and with it the power of the Church and of the nobles, who regained, if not the whole, at least a considerable portion of their former influence. This reaction threw the bourgeoisie back into the Revolution, and with the revolutionary spirit that of scepticism also was re-awakened in it. It set Chateaubriand aside and began to read Voltaire again; but it did not go so far as Diderot: its debilitated nerves could not stand nourishment so strong. Voltaire, on the contrary, at once a freethinker and a deist, suited it very well. BÈranger and P. L. Courier expressed this new tendency perfectly. The God of the good people" and the ideal of the bourgeois king, at once liberal and democratic, sketched against the majestic and thenceforth inoffensive
background of the Empire's gigantic victories such was at that period the daily intellectual food of the bourgeoisie of France.
Lamartine, to be sure, excited by a vain and ridiculously envious desire to rise to the poetic height of the great Byron, had begun his coldly delirious hymns in honour of the God of the nobles and of the legitimate monarchy. But his songs
resounded only in aristocratic salons. The bourgeoisie did not hear them. BÈranger was its poet and Courier was its political writer.
The revolution of July resulted in lifting its tastes. We know that every bourgeois in France carries within him the imperishable type of the bourgeois gentleman, a type which never fails to appear immediately the parvenu acquires a little wealth and power. In 1830 the wealthy bourgeoisie had definitely replaced the old nobility in the seats of power. It naturally tended to establish a new aristocracy. An aristocracy of capital first of all, but also an aristocracy of intellect, of good manners and delicate sentiments. It began to feel religious.
This was not on its part simply an aping of aristocratic customs. It was also a necessity of its position. The proletariat had rendered it a final service in once more aiding it to overthrow the nobility. The bourgeoisie now had no further need of its co-operation, for it felt itself firmly seated in the shadow of the throne of July, and the alliance with the people, thenceforth useless, began to become inconvenient. It was necessary to remand it to its place, which naturally could not be done without provoking great indignation among the masses. It became necessary to restrain this indignation. In the name of what? In the name of the bourgeois interest bluntly confessed ? That would have been much too cynical. The more unjust and inhuman an interest is, the greater need it has of sanction. Now, where find it if not in religion, that good
protectress of al I the well-fed and the useful consoler of the hungry? And more than ever the triumphant bourgeoisie saw that religion was indispensable to the people.
After having won all its titles to glory in religious, philosophical, and political opposition, in protest and in revolution, it at last became the dominant class and thereby even the defender and preserver of the State, thenceforth the regular institution of the exclusive power of that class. The State is force, and for it, first of all, is the right of force, the triumphant argument of the needlegun, of the chassepot. But man is so singularly constituted that this argument, wholly eloquent as it may appear, is not sufficient in the long run. Some moral sanction or other is absolutely necessary to enforce his respect. Further, this sanction must be at once so simple and so plain that it may convince the masses, who, after having been reduced by the power of the State. must also be induced to morally recognise its right.
There are only two ways of convincing the masses of the goodness of any social institution whatever. The first, the only real one, but also the most difficult to adopt - because it implies the abolition of the State, or, in other words, the abolition of the organised political exploitation of the majority by any minority whatsoever - would be the direct and complete satisfaction of the needs and aspirations of the people, which would be equivalent to the complete liquidation of the political and economical existence of the bourgeois class, or,
and see what an important part is played in all official discourses by divine Providence. the KnoutoGermanic emperor. had to give 106 . The French liberal and Voltairean bourgeoisie.the United States of America or the Swiss Confederation. or Grant. moreover and always giving most to him who possesses most .very unequally. there cannot be. but detrimental to bourgeois interests. to the abolition of the State.again. which leads away the masses in a search for divine treasures. on the contrary. while much more reserved. But whenever a chief of State speaks of God. the governing class contents itself with dividing among all its members . That is the eternal mirage. the president of the great republic. harmful only to the people.. Beneficial means for the masses. including their political and social liberty. for instance . is no other than religion. precious in its salvation of bourgeois privileges. a State without religion.the miserable goods of earth and the plunder taken from the people. Take the freest States in the world . that supreme sanction of all States. hence it is useless to talk about them. driven by temperament to a positivism (not to say a materialism) singularly narrow and brutal. be sure that he is getting ready to shear once more his people-flock. The only way. having become the governing class of the State by its triumph of 1830. be he Wil1iam I. There is not.
It is the bourgeois religion par excellence. The bourgeoisie could not abruptly go back under the yoke of Roman Catholicism. It accords just as much liberty as is necessary to the bourgeois.unless it be done deliberately. the French bourgeoisie would have covered itself with ridicule if it had gone back to the Church to take part in the pious ceremonies of its worship. Between it and the Church of Rome was an abyss of blood and hatred. Finally. in the exclusive positive heart of the 107 . and finds a way of reconciling celestial aspirations with the respect which terrestrial conditions demand. an essential condition of a meritorious and sincere conversion. a return to Catholicism was impossible on account of the insolvable contradiction which separates the invariable politics of Rome from the development of the economical and political interests of the middle class. In this respect Protestantism is much more advantageous. however practical and wise one becomes. Moreover. It was not an easy thing.itself an official religion. it is true. But it was impossible for the French bourgeoisie to become Protestant. as sometimes in the case of the Jews of Russia and Poland. Now. a little faith is necessary. it is never possible to repress a passion developed by history. but their heroism was rewarded by no other result than a fruitless scandal. Consequently it is especially in Protestant countries that commerce and industry have been developed. who get baptised three or four times in order to receive each time the remuneration allowed them . Several attempted it. and. To pass from one religion to another .to seriously change one's religion.
in order to sanction its new State. to use the language of the school. the French bourgeois could not go over to Protestantism without putting himself in conflict with the Catholic routine of the majority of the French people. and moral education of the bourgeois youth of France. Villemain. without too much ridicule and scandal. He is as indifferent to Protestantism as to Catholicism. and many others. Guizot. which would have been great imprudence on the part of a class pretending to govern the nation.to return to the humanitarian and revolutionary religion of the eighteenth century.we may well add . its real founder was Royer-Collard. Thus was born doctrinaire Deism. of the principle 108 . to create a new religion which might be boldly proclaimed. Others have told. or. But that would have led too far. So the bourgeoisie was obliged. On the other hand.French bourgeois there is no room for faith. Cousin.so fatal an influence on the political. its apostles. It dates from Benjamin Constant and Madame de StaÎl. by the whole bourgeois class. which had so decisive and . There was still one way left . Its boldly avowed object was the reconciliation of Revolution with Reaction. He professes the most profound indifference for all questions which touch neither his pocket first nor his social vanity afterwards. intellectual. the story of the birth and development of this school. much better than I could tell it.
We have only to deal here with the latter. made compulsory in all schools of the State under the University. the taking away of popular liberty for the benefit of bourgeois rule. scholastic philosophers. in philosophy. a metaphysical dish of his own making the use of which. of any idea peculiar to himself. Descartes and Pascal. this illustrious philosopher learnedly prepared. A superficial and pedantic talker. the existence of a personal God.. but very strong on commonplace. by an ignorance. This reconciliation signified: in politics. which he confounded with common sense. for the use of the studious youth of France. the father of French eclecticism.. and proving just as two times two make five.. of course. incapable of any original conception.of liberty with that of authority. Cousin. Imagine a philosophical vinegar sauce of the most opposed systems. the deliberate submission of free reason to the eternal principles of faith. condemned several generations one after the other to a cerebral indigestion. represented by the monarchical and constitutional State. and covered up with a layer of Hegelian immanence accompanied. 109 . as contemptuous as it is complete. of natural science. and naturally to the advantage of the latter.. Kant and Scotch psychologists all this a superstructure on the divine and innate ideas of Plato. We know that this philosophy was specially elaborated by M. a mixture of Fathers of the Church.
that the reading public cared no more for it. but a few months later came back with his Genius of Christianity. well known and thoroughly authentic . was for religious works. 110 .one. on the contrary. by the way. Chateaubriand submitted to a publisher a work attacking faith.Footnotes  It seems to me useful to recall at this point an anecdote . Chateaubriand withdrew. The publisher called his attention to the fact that atheism had gone out of fashion.which sheds a very clear light on the personal value of this warmed-over of the Catholic beliefs and on the religious sincerity of that period. and that the demand.